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Federal judge dismisses cryptominers’ suit against Grant PUD

Grant PUD did not discriminate against nor violate constitutional rights of cryptocurrency mining operations by charging them and other higher-risk, "evolving industries" more for their electricity, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson's ruling dismisses the lawsuit against Grant PUD filed in December 2018 by a group of cryptocurrency mining operators who argued that Grant PUD's commission-approved Rate Schedule 17 and the public process to create it deprived them of due process and violated their rights.

"Washington law gives public utility districts 'full and exclusive authority' to set rates," Grant PUD General Counsel Mitch Delabarre said. "Grant PUD exercised its rate-setting authority to address an unprecedented level of requests for service from evolving industries. This allowed Grant PUD to serve evolving industries without shifting increased costs to other customers. We are pleased the court agreed with Grant PUD's exercise of discretion by dismissing the case."

The plaintiffs can appeal the ruling or refile their suit in a state court.

Rate Schedule 17 is the product of more than a year of public process and intensive analysis by Grant PUD staff to accommodate an explosive increase in requests for electric service by operators of these energy-intense mining operations. Their requests coincided with a dramatic spike in the value of bitcoin, a leading type of cryptocurrency.

Since the first of the rate's three-year phase-in period took effect in April 2019, the price of bitcoin has fallen. The industry's demand for electricity has declined in Grant County, reducing the industry's associated levels of risk locally. Commissioners March 10 approved revised rate increases that are lower than originally proposed but still provide needed protections for both Grant PUD and its customers.