“Embracing the future of digital currency: Exploring Bitcoin mining as a viable economic opportunity for Washington County”
Washington County commissioners are set to consider a proposed settlement in their lawsuit against BrightRidge and Bitcoin mine operator Red Dog Technologies. The lawsuit was filed in November 2021, and the settlement agreement will be presented at a meeting on Monday.
The meeting agenda states that after the presentation of the proposed settlement, the commission will enter a closed executive session to discuss certain matters related to the lawsuit. Following that, members of the public who sign up will have the opportunity to address the settlement agreement issue, with each person given three minutes to speak. The only other item on the agenda is a discussion of the status and potential settlement of the lawsuit.
The Bitcoin mine, located next to BrightRidge’s Bailey Bridge Road substation in Limestone, has been a source of controversy since May 2021. Neighbors in the rural community began complaining about noise from the fans required to cool the high-powered computers used for cryptocurrency mining. Commissioners later learned that the mine’s function did not comply with the zoning designation, and a lawsuit was filed when BrightRidge failed to shut down the operation.
In June 2022, a settlement was approved that called for Red Dog to pay penalties, relocate to the Washington County Industrial Park in Telford, purchase a new site for the mine, and agree to penalties for decibel readings above a certain level. However, the settlement faced opposition from residents near the industrial park, and a countywide election changed the composition of the commission before the settlement could be finalized. A subsequent vote in November 2022 failed, leading to a trial scheduled for February 2024.
The parent company of Red Dog, GRIID Infrastructure, has faced financial difficulties. It lost $61 million in 2022 and $22 million in the first six months of 2023. The company had plans to go public and expand its capacity, but these ambitions were halted when the price of Bitcoin dropped significantly. GRIID restructured its loan and now owes more than $57 million. The company’s ability to construct a new mining operation in Washington County will depend on its lender’s willingness to provide additional capital.
The outcome of the settlement and the future of the Bitcoin mine in Washington County remain uncertain. The county commissioners’ decision on the proposed settlement will have significant implications for all parties involved.