Upset Crypto Miners Spark Need for Security at Power Company in Washington State

Upset Crypto Miners Spark Need for Security at Power Company in Washington State

Utility companies in Washington State are boosting security after placing a moratorium on cryptocurrency miners.

Several public utility companies are feeling the urgency to boost security measures following the decision to place a moratorium on mining activities in Washington state due to heavy loads. One entity, the Chelan County Public Utility District (CCPUD), reported that its employees on the phones and in the field have been physically threatened by the angry miners.

CCPUD launched a moratorium against cryptocurrency mining after it determined that the electric grid was being overwhelmed by the activity. The following month, county commissioners authorized the operator to go after miners that continued to infringe on the system. The CCPUD was given permission to immediately disconnect any account that is found to be in violation of the moratorium and fined up to $11,400.

The suppression of mining operations didn't go over well with the miners. According to a statement by CCPUD: "Employees in the field and those in the office who are handling these issues related to high-density load service have encountered an increasing number of upset customers and potential customers. In some cases, people can get agitated and augmentative. Our goal always is to provide excellent customer service, as well as to keep customers, the public and employees safe, especially when emotions may be running high."

The company has been forced to introduce a number of new security measures and procedures, including a secure lobby for new services, ballistic panels and cameras in its headquarters.

All new security measures include:

  • Designing a small, secure lobby at the downtown service building where people go to request and discuss new services. Construction is set to start soon on the estimated $20,000 project, which will be paid out of the current facilities budget.
  • Adding ballistic panels and more cameras to the headquarters lobby.
  • Providing more training on when to call PUD security staff for help.
  • Increasing visibility of uniformed security staff. Security staff are training to pay attention to negative body language to identify people who are agitated.
  • Assessing security at the Leavenworth and Chelan offices to determine what else may be needed. A trip to those offices is planned next week.
  • Creating the process for working with local law enforcement when power theft from unauthorized bitcoin operations is suspected.

While the CCPUD reports that their measures aren't in response to a direct threat, the company recognizes it would be foolish to wait until after something happens before adding measures of precaution.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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