Bloomberg reported that Kobzev’s office has confirmed the letter’s authenticity. The Irkutsk region is already a local Bitcoin mining hub due to having the cheapest retail electricity in Russia, according to Bloomberg. Irk.ru noted that industrial giants based in the region take on part of consumers’ electricity costs, which lowers prices. In it, the leader of Russia’s fourth-largest region proposed charging higher rates for crypto miners, citing the annexed Crimean peninsula as an example.
The surge is exacerbated by China’s ban on crypto mining “and the relocation of a significant amount of equipment to the Irkutsk region due to geographical proximity,” Kobzev wrote. The Irkutsk region’s energy consumption so far in 2021 is up by 159% compared to last year, the outlet reported.
“The situation is an unpredictable event for the region, leading to significant loads on the power grid with the risk of complicated accidents and emergencies,” he added. In a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak quoted by the Irkutsk region’s irk.ru news website, Kobzev raised the alarm over an “avalanche-like increase in electricity consumption by ‘underground miners’ at consumer prices.”
Still, Russia is the world’s third-largest Bitcoin mining country at over 11% of average monthly shares, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI). Bitcoin use is limited in Russia due to the country’s restrictive laws on cryptocurrencies, including President Vladimir Putin’s 2020 law on digital financial assets that legalized cryptocurrencies but banned their use as payment for goods and services.
“This is a huge load on the network and these are risks, especially in winter. We have to protect residents; miners must pay different rates.” “We understand that this unhealthy activity of ‘underground’ miners is partly explained by the affordable price of electricity for the population,” Kobzev said in comments to irk.ru.
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