Kneehill County council gave initial approval to a cryptocurrency mining centre by approving first reading of the necessary bylaw and scheduling a public hearing. The resolutions were passed at the Jan. 9 regular meeting of council.

Planning and Development Officer Deanna Keiver presented councillors with a rezoning application from Britestone Hutterian Brethren Church for a parcel of land they own located at SE 24-28-24 W4 and NE 13- 28-24 W4 with the intent to change zoning from agriculture to light industrial. 

“Britestone Hutterian Brethren Church are the current landowners of a Ptn. SE 24-28-24 W4 and NE 13- 28-24 W4 and they have granted SABR Energy Consulting Inc. the authority (agent) to apply on behalf of Athill Tech Solution Ltd. to construct and operate a 9.97-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant for bitcoin mining/data centre operation,” stated Keiver’s memo to council.

Readers should note bitcoin is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world; According to the website Coursera.org, “Cryptocurrency is digital money that doesn’t require a bank or financial institution to verify transactions and can be used for purchases or as an investment. Transactions are then verified and recorded on a blockchain, an unchangeable ledger that tracks and records assets and trades.”

Keiver noted the company involved, Anthill Tech Solution Ltd., appears to already have detailed plans for the development. 

“The proposed site is located approximately six miles southwest of the Village of Carbon,” stated Keiver in her presentation.

“The site is accessed via Hwy. 21. The applicants will be placing seven natural gas generators which will connect to 20 data centre containers. An office trailer will also be placed on site. 

“This lease will be directly west of the existing Ember lease. The ptn. of NE 13-28-24 W4 is for access only. The entire workspace is within the SE 24-28-24 W4. 

“Ember Resources has approved the connection of the data centre to their natural gas facility.” Keiver noted a cryptocurrency data mining centre is a discretionary use under Kneehill County’s Land-use Bylaw (LUB).

Coun. Wade Christie asked, “How close is the closest residence to that?” Keiver responded she didn’t know, but estimated the closest residence would be one to 1.5 miles. Keiver added that information will be presented at the public hearing.

Coun. Debbie Penner noted she is sometimes asked by members of the public how much tax revenue Kneehill County gets from data mining centres; Keiver responded she didn’t have an answer for that question but would forward it to Kneehill County’s tax department.

Coun. Carrie Fobes noted an existing data mining centre near Torrington is also on natural gas. Keiver stated the proposed development would be west of that existing site.

Fobes asked if by approving this request Kneehill County would be taking this out of farmland, to which Keiver answered, “Yes.”

Councillors unanimously passed first reading of the rezoning bylaw and set a date of Feb. 13 for the public hearing.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 17, 2024 at 13:15

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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