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AEC is not the first firm to repurpose a landmark of modern industry to generate cryptocurrency.
Mechanicville, New York’s hydroelectric plant, has now been repurposed for Bitcoin mining. The plant owned by Albany Engineering Corp (AEC) is touted to be the oldest renewable energy facility in the United States.
Built in 1897, the hydro-plant has suffered serious setbacks. In 1986, the National Grid brought in AEC to help revamp the plant. The deal would see them buy back energy from AEC at a price lesser than the market value for 40 years. Unfortunately, the National Grid reneged on the deal and a prolonged legal battle ensued.
While the settlement was being pursued in court, the National Grid stopped purchasing power from the hydro plant. In that same period, the plant got flooded and there was a fire incident with one machine. This put the antique plant in a difficult position.
Why Is Bitcoin Mining a Choice for the Plant?
Eventually, after a decade of fighting, the court ruled in favor of AEC. The National Grid was asked to forgo the plant, contribute to repairing the damages incurred during the prolonged legal battle, and pay the market rate for the power produced there – a significant increase over what had been agreed in their contract.
Despite this, the profit margin was still low. Chief Executive of AEC, Jim Besha Sr. noted that mining the cryptocurrency will help the firm triple its profit in stark contrast to what was possible from selling electricity to the National Grid.
Although Besha is skeptical about the potential of the digital asset, in the long run, he considers the income from bitcoin a stop-gap measure to ensure cash flow in the short term. Rather than holding on to the mined bitcoins, AEC is selling it off immediately.
Despite the massive increase in profit margins, Besha complains about his inability to sell electricity to be used as power.
AEC is not the first firm to repurpose a landmark of modern industry to generate cryptocurrency. Bitriver launched an information hub in 2018 for mining cryptocurrency. Later that year, Coinmint signed a ten-year lease on a 1,300-acre plot of land in New York to host BTC mining hardware.
The plant, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been nominated for landmark engineering status. The nomination was done across three different engineering fields – civil, electrical, and mechanical. Surely, better days are ahead for a plant that almost got dismantled.