Please Urge Cuomo to Deny Stormwater Permit and Revoke Air and SPDES Permits For Greenidge Power Plant Organizational Sign On
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
State St and Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12224
RE: Proposed Expansion of Greenidge Gas-Powered Plant in Dresden, NY
Dear Governor Cuomo,
As business owners and organizations in the Finger Lakes Region and across New York State, we write you today to voice our vehement opposition to the expansion of the Greenidge Gas-Powered Facility in the heart of the Finger Lakes.
This 1950s era facility is a relic of New York State’s past. When Greenidge restarted operations in 2016, the inefficient old plant could only operate economically in the electric power markets as a peaker plant, being paid to provide backup power and only operating when excess energy was needed by the grid. Now, Greenidge has created its own demand for electricity and it has become economic for the plant to operate 24/7 generating bitcoin hash rate. With its transition to natural gas, the facility operates at less than half the efficiency of more modern natural gas power plants, and its expansion proposal means an increase from its 6% usage in 2019 to 100%, 24/7/365 usage, consuming enough power to fuel more than 90,000 homes.
In essence, the Public Service Commission and the Finger Lakes community have been misled so that Atlas Holdings LLC could secure a Certificate for Public Convenience and Necessity and Lightened Regulation and then turn around and use this facility for their own personal gain. Since this project is no longer designed to meet the reasonable needs of the public and its use and purpose for expansion has changed so drastically, the storm water permit should be denied, and the existing air and SPDES permits must be revoked immediately.
This facility will emit more greenhouse gases than it has in any of the past 15 years, and is a direct assault against the intent of your nationally leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which requires reduction of GHG to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050. More specifically, Greenidge’s “behind the meter’ operations would evade CLCPA requirements entirely through the year 2050. Even worse, it’s being allowed in the heart of New York State’s Finger Lakes agricultural and eco-tourism region.
What damages our fragile ecosystem will also damage our agri-tourism industry. The project discharges water at up to 108 degrees F. into the Keuka Outlet which empties directly into Seneca Lake. The temperature limits for trout streams, like the Keuka Outlet, is 70 degrees F. The additional heat would stress trout and other cold water fish, and increase risks to spawning which occurs yearly in the stream.
The hot water will increase incidences of Harmful Algal Blooms, exacerbating an already troublesome issue for the Finger Lakes. Furthermore, the system is not using protective measures to prevent fish, eggs, and other aquatic life from being killed at their water intake location.
In addition to harming Seneca Lake, a drinking water source for over 100,000 people, this facility will increase noise levels not only in the surrounding area, but also across the lake, since noise travels easily across open water. Traditional data centers prohibit the use of bitcoin servers because they make so much noise, use too much energy and generate too much heat.
Very few jobs will be created if the facility expands, since expansion consists of adding new, fully automated bitcoin mining computers. Greenidge received $2 million in NYS regional economic development funds in 2015 to build the gas pipeline extension to bring gas to the plant. Now, Greenidge is saddling our region with all of the environmental and economic risk and little to no reward. Bill Harris, former founding CEO PayPal, Intuit, and Personal capital has called Bitcoin and Bitcoin mining, “a colossal pump-and-dump scheme, the likes of which the world has never seen.”
Currently, 60-70% of all Bitcoin mining is done in China, but the Chinese are considering completely banning the activity as a waste of resources. Atlas is bringing this wasteful activity to Seneca Lake, and using an inefficient, old plant to do it. Yes, Atlas has devised a clever business idea, but it is bad for the Finger Lakes, it is bad for New York, and if left unchecked, could have implications for similar facilities owned in partnership with Atlas along the Hudson River and near Albany. It makes no sense to embrace a wasteful industry that other countries are turning away, and it is reckless to allow a 70-year-old fossil fuel burning facility to power a Bitcoin mining operation.
In light of these issues, we urge you to direct your DEC to deny the storm water permit and immediately revoke the existing air and SPDES permits for this facility’s power generation and use.
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