New York’s Mechanicville Hydroelectric plant, one of the oldest hydropower generation facilities in the United States, has now started bitcoin mining, according to a Times Union report. It makes three times more profit by bitcoin mining than selling electricity.
The plant is owned by Albany Engineering Corp (AEC). National Grid asked to restore it in 1986. Jim Besha Sr. AEC’s chief executive notes that cryptocurrency mining offers triple the profit margins from selling electricity back to the National grid.
“We think this is the oldest renewable energy facility in the world that’s still running. We can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to the National grid,” Besha said.
Despite a strong profit margin, Besha regrets not selling his electricity for energy use. But, a decade of a fight with the National grid has left him looking for alternative sources of income.
To restore the plant; AEC signed a contract with the National grid guaranteeing it would buy power from Besha for 40 years at a discount rate. However, AEC received licensing to operate the plant independently in 1993. Besha claims that after that, National Grid canceled the deal. For that Besha sued the National grid and It took a 10-years for settlement. Besha claims that the National grid breached its agreement leading to a protracted legal battle.
In the end, National Grid agreed to give up a plant, pay for repairs to help with damages incurred during long court cases. Moreover, the plant has been nominated landmark status in 3 different types of engineering: civil, electrical and mechanical.
That will add to the National Register protection to keep the plant intact for, possibly, centuries to come. “We’re in our third century now,” Besha said.