Officials press bitcoin company to find a solution to noise issues | News
Washington County commissioners urged officials from Red Dog Technologies on Monday to cease bitcoin mining in Limestone until the company finds a way to silence its operations.
“You say you want to be a good neighbor, so why don’t you shut down until a solution is found?” Commissioner Bryan Davenport asked a representative from the company. “Quality of life is more important than money.”
Commissioner Kent Harris told the same Red Dog official he felt “hoodwinked” that he voted in favor of a rezoning last year paving the way for the cyber-mining operation. He and other commissioners said they were misled into believing the rezoning was for a solar farm and data center.
“This is a vote I regret,” said Harris, who also suggested the move has created a “black eye for BrightRidge.”
Commissioners began addressing the bitcoin mining operation last month after hearing earlier from a number of residents in the Limestone community, who said noise coming from the computers and cooling fans used in its cyber-mining has been non-stop since Red Dog began its operations earlier this year.
Peston Holly, who lives across from the mining site, told commissioners Monday he is still waiting to hear why the bitcoin mining operation is a good thing for his community.
“Maybe there is something good that will come from this,” Holly said. “I hope you will continue to push for transparency and make this an asset for the community.”
Commissioners also heard from Todd Napier, a representative of Red Dog, who said it would be up to his company’s top executives to make a decision on shutting down the bitcoin mining site. He said his company is taking the noise complaints very seriously and has hired WSP, an acoustic engineering firm, to take decibel readings at the site and to develop a plan for quietening the equipment.
In addition, he said the company began taking steps last week to install what he called “acoustic levers” at the facility to help dampen the noise. Napier told commissioners that neighbors have reported those efforts have made “a noticeable difference” in the noise level.
He also added his company has received a proposal from Ebm-papst, a German manufacturer of automobile fans, motors and other air components, for quieter cooling units at the facility.
Commissioner Jodi Jones told Napier she would like to see the company appear before the board next month with “the data collected” from its acoustic tests. A number of commissioners also pressed officials from BrightRidge to join the county in prodding Red Dog officials to find solutions to the noise complaints.
One option, Commissioner Freddie Malone said, might be for the company to cease its bitcoin mining operations at night. He noted that BrightRidge might want to amend its power supply agreement with Red Dog, which has become one of the utility’s largest customers in Washington County, second only to East Tennessee State University.
Commissioner Jim Wheeler also suggested to Jeff Dykes, the CEO of BrightRidge, that his utility should consider joining the county in possible legal action against Red Dog “if we don’t see measurable results” in remedying noise problems at the site.