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Controversial Bitcoin-Mining Power Co. Plans to Replace Landfill With Solar Farm

Image of a field of solar panels at sunset
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A controversial Bitcoin-mining power company called Greenidge Generation Holdings announced that it's "actively exploring investing a portion of its mining profits in renewable energy projects in New York," starting with the replacement of a 40-year-old, 143-acre coal ash landfill with a "significant new solar farm."

Greenidge said it's owned the Lockwood Hills landfill since 2014. Now it will work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to "safely cap and close the landfill" in a process that will include "site grading and the installation of a permanent engineered membrane to prevent erosion and water infiltration."

The company will then relinquish its permit for the site, it said, and start to accept bids for a solar project that's projected to produce up to 5MW of power. Greenidge said in March that its natural gas-fueled power plant generates 106MW of power, meanwhile, 19MW of which is devoted to its Bitcoin mining operations.

Finger Lakes residents raised concerns about Greenidge's plans to expand its mining operations in April. The company had previously said that it planned to increase the amount of power its plants would devote to cryptocurrency mining to 41MW by the end of 2Q21, 85MW by the end of 4Q21, and "at least 500MW" by 2025.

Those concerns were echoed by New York lawmakers in May with the introduction of Senate Bill S6486B, which sought to "establish a moratorium" on cryptocurrency mining pending the "completion of a comprehensive generic environmental impact study" of those mining operations. (The bill is waiting on the New York Assembly.)

Greenidge has deflected those criticisms by claiming that its New York facility "is an environmentally-sound operation that has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent  years and employs dozens of skilled associates, creating attractive new blockchain jobs and serving as an anchor for the local economy."

Now it seems the company is looking to have some fun in the sun, as it were, by positioning its Bitcoin mining operation as a direct source of funding for renewable energy projects in New York. That financial support could make it more difficult for activists and lawmakers to question the environmental impact of that mining.