“Crypto Crazy”- digital mining catches wind in the ‘Burg


Jack Lambert

Mining cryptocurrency can take up a lot of electricity. Heat that comes from the computer could be deemed a fire hazard.

Jack Belcher, Senior News Reporter

The amount of people mining for cryptocurrency has drastically risen within the last year, and with the most expensive part of crypto-mining being the electric bill, some think it is likely that people are taking advantage of the free electricity CWU offers.

Cryptocurrency, or encrypted digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, have been a popular way for people to make money in recent months. The price of a single Bitcoin has increased from $1 in 2011 to around $10,000 today.

There are many ways for people to become the owner of Bitcoin, or any other form of cryptocurrency. The first is to simply buy it; this is as easy as any other online purchase. The second way is to mine cryptocurrency. This is more complicated and not only requires hardware, but also a large amount of electricity. Mining cryptocurrency will make anyone’s electric bill skyrocket and is what could end up costing miners thousands of dollars annually.

This is why people like Ellensburg resident and Cryptocurrency Miner Jonathan Leonard believe that CWU is   a good place for students to use the university’s electricity to mine cryptocurrency.

“As a student living in the dorms specifically, you are not being charged for power, and the biggest input cost towards this ongoing [mining trend] is power,” Leonard said.

The cost of electricity is not the only problem that mining cryptocurrency in a dorm can cause. There is also the heat that each computer rig mining the coin produces. Each video card runs at around 176 degrees Fahrenheit and a basic mining rig has a four video cards each, which can quickly become a fire hazard.

Currently there is no campus policy against mining cryptocurrency and if someone did have a rig set up in their dorm room, it would be completely legal. However, in other parts of the world, mining cryptocurrency is already banned. For example, it is banned in many shopping centers in South Korea due  to the high electricity costs and the risk of fire that it creates.

CWU Lecturer Deborah Wells  teaches a Cybercrime class and has briefly touched on crypto-mining in her class.

She said that they are going to start incorporating  more information about cryptocurrency into their classes.

Wells has heard stories of people’s power costs going through the roof if they are a crypto miner, and agrees that there is a huge risk of fires.