OPINION

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Greenidge 'a poorly negotiated trade'

Mark Petzold

An essay by Gwen Chamberlain was published July 16 and called Greenidge Generation “a remarkable success story for New York State.” Let’s take a look at this claim by the recent Greenidge employee.

In 2015, Greenidge stated in the Public Service Commission document to be “electric generator selling exclusively at wholesale.” In 2018, Greenidge broke that contract with the people of New York State by starting a Bitcoin operation. Greenidge is now using NYS natural resources to generate electricity for their profit from Bitcoin. The peaker plant output has dropped from 190,219 Mega Watt hours (MWh) in 2018 to 55,675 MWh in 2019 according to EIA.gov. Who is benefiting from the abuse of our resources? Criminals like it. The ransomware hack of the Colonial Pipeline that caused massive gas shortages in early May resulted in $4.4M paid in Bitcoin to Russian criminals. The JBS Food ransomware payout in May was $11 million in Bitcoin. Greenidge gets rich. Criminals get rich. What are the residents of NYS getting? We get dead fish, hot water, and pollutants in our lake. We get CO2, NOx, and particulates in our air. We get millions of dollars of leaving our state. The few jobs it produces are a poorly negotiated trade.

The environmental record claimed by Greenidge is a smokescreen. The permits issued did not involve years of analysis. There has never been an Environmental Impact Statement of the power plant impact to our water and air. They withdrew 9.5 billion gallons of water in 2019 to cool a 1954 vintage generator that is 35% efficient. While doing that they are killing an unknown but large number of fish, larvae and eggs because they don’t have fish filters on the intake. See the DEC’s own study of how many fish die at power plants in NYS. Billions. (https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/fishkills2009.pdf.) They also spewed 228,303 tons of CO2 into the air in 2020 according to EPA Emissions data as Bitcoin transactions grew. Greenidge claims how great they are because they are buying carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are a false solution to the CO2 problem. NYS needs to reduce its CO2 output, and Greenidge is clearly going in the wrong direction. Their contribution to the overall CO2 generation matters, especially as Bitcoin is no benefit to NYS residents. 

If Greenidge was serious about the environment, they would have spent that $70M of investment and carbon offsets on a solar farm to power a bitcoin operation. Gwen stated Greenidge is looking for renewable energy investments with their profits. Why aren’t they looking to improve the environment around Seneca Lake and contribute to Climate Leadership Community Protection Act goals instead of working against it? A new 70% efficient generator would cut the billion cubic feet of natural gas they burned in 2020 significantly. How about a closed loop cooling system to end water withdrawals? How about installing fish filters? Greenidge environmental impact will only increase as they expand their 7,000 “mining” computers and work towards their short term goal of generating 55 MWatts of electricity. More natural gas burned, more CO2 (551,569 tons) into our air, more water withdrawn, more fish killed, more hot water and pollution in the lake.  How about less? How about Greenidge do something positive for the people of NYS?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letter writers are responsible for making sure the information they submit is accurate and factual.