A hydroelectric plant built in 1897 is serving a very different function now. The Albany Times Union reported that the Mechanicville, NY plant operated by Albany Engineering Corp. is currently mining Bitcoin with some of the power it produces.
"We think this is the oldest renewable energy facility in the world that’s still running,” Albany Engineering Corp. CEO Jim Besha told the Albany Times Union. He also said the plant "can actually make more money with bitcoin than selling the electricity to National Grid," though, which is why he's taken to mining the cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin mining is an energy-intensive operation that requires a lot of powerful equipment. Criticism of the cryptocurrency's environmental impact has led to renewed pushes for it to be mined using renewable energy sources like this hydroelectric plant in New York or a proposed volcano-powered mine in El Salvador.
Besha doesn't appear to be all-in on Bitcoin, however. "It’s the best [type of bitcoin mining] because we’re using renewable energy," he told the Albany Times Union. "We’re just doing it on the side, experimenting with it. We're buying used servers." (Not that new servers are going to be particularly easy to come by at the moment.)
He's also selling the coins as they're mined because of the crypto market's volatility. This experimentation with Bitcoin, combined with the plant's listing on the National Register of Historic Places and its use of renewable energy, could help set it apart from similar efforts to mine the cryptocurrency in upstate New York.
It's not clear how a bill that would ban cryptocurrency mining in New York would affect Albany Engineering Corp.'s plans—which could be another reason why Besha hasn't fully committed to cryptocurrency mining. That bill, S6486B, passed the New York Senate and is now waiting for a vote from the New York Assembly.