Northwest’s cheap power drawing bitcoin miners

BitcoinMinenorthwest26 Apr 2014 / The Spokesman-Review – When two Stanford University grads wanted to start a bitcoin company, they looked for the lowest power rates in the country.

A map comparing energy rates led them to Central Washington, where hydroelectric dams churn out electricity that costs industrial customers less than 2 cents per kilowatt.

HashPlex, the business launched by Bernie Rihn and George Schnurle, is one of several bitcoin mining companies operating or preparing to launch in Grant, Chelan and Douglas counties. All three counties have public utility districts that offer very low power rates to industrial customers.

In this case, mining has nothing to do with metals. It’s the term in the tech world for how the virtual currency bitcoin is made.

Bitcoins are a form of currency composed of long, unique strings of digital characters. Each bitcoin can be used or exchanged by people who accept it as a form of payment. Its value fluctuates with supply and demand; each bitcoin currently is worth about $500.

It can’t be easily counterfeited and is owned anonymously, making it popular for digital and international transactions.

Explaining the complex system of how many bitcoins are “mined” reads like a course in cryptography and electrical engineering. In short, a person can mine bitcoins by using computers to crunch vast amounts of data until they generate a unique code or “block.” That block has to be compared against all other existing blocks and then validated…… Read more

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