Can Bitcoin revive a ghost town? A small Canadian mill town of Ocean Falls in British Columbia is thinking this possible for them. With a population of fewer than 100 people, they are hoping miners will set their eyes on this remote location as they search for cool weather and plenty of hydroelectric power. In the search of inexpensive electricity, Bitcoin miners have looked into small towns across North America. A few mining operations have looked into the rural town of Wenatchee, Washington. Chinese ASIC manufacturer Bitman is set to open up a mining center in Rockdale, Texas. There have been mixed results from locals, with some welcoming miners while others are skeptical.
Ocean Falls, Canada was once a town with about 5,000 people though it has fallen to less than 100. Different types of businesses have tried to set up shop in the area and have failed. It is a remote area that is only accessible by boat or plane. Winters and rain affect the lifestyle as well.
The attractive detail that draw in bitcoin miners is its dam. The town is so small for the amount of electricity that is pumped out. Two-thirds of the power goes unused. As a result, the local private utility (Boralex) has been fielding calls from Bitcoin miners who are interested in working in Ocean Falls. Boralex’s British Columbia operations manager, Brent Case, told Bloomberg how he worked with Vancouver-based Kevin Day to turn one floor of the old paper mill in Ocean Falls into a mining center.
According to Bitcoinist, Case negotiated a deal with Day and his company, Ocean Falls Blockchain, to sell electricity at a deeply subsidized price for five years. The mining company has told investors it will be purchasing 6 megawatts of power by the end of the year. Construction contractors quickly became the talk of the town as they moved into a local boarding house and spent money at the small stores.
But Ocean Falls Blockchain has faced several problems.
The company spoke to investors in February after making financial projections off of an $11,000 Bitcoin $7006.68 -0.1% price. With the crashes and volatility seen this year, those projections are obviously a long way off.
Boralex is also wrangling with the local public utility over a price dispute. Worries are an arbitration deal could lead to a higher electricity price that could cause Ocean Falls Blockchain to leave town.
Despite what happens, some residents are merely happy people are coming to Ocean Falls with a vision towards the future.
Others — recalling how vibrant the town used to be in decades past — are just relieved to see the turbines still up and running for any sort of project.