Kneehill County councillors approved first reading of a re-zoning bylaw that would see a cryptocurrency mining and micro-power generation operation located on land within the rural municipality.
The application was presented at the April 12 regular meeting.
Manager of Planning and Development Barb Hazelton presented the application from Fire technology Corp.
“GVF Contracting Ltd, is the current landowner of the SE 28-32-26 W4 and he has granted Fire Technology Corp. as an agent to apply for a micro-power generation and cryptocurrency mining facility on the above noted lands,” stated Hazelton’s memo to council.
“The proposed site is located approximately two kilometres southwest of Torrington, Alta. as the crow flies. The site is accessed via Range Road 26-3 and is just over 1.5 miles south of Highway #27.
“The applicants are looking to lease a portion of the existing Ember lease site located on the property. Ember has entered into a surface sharing lease with Fire Technology Corp.”
Hazelton stated in her presentation that the proposed uses are included in Kneehill County’s light industrial zoning.
“A data centre is a discretionary use in the light industrial district,” noted the memo.
According to investopedia.com, cryptocurrency mining, which includes Bitcoin, is defined as, “…an energy-intensive process with customized mining systems that compete to solve mathematical puzzles. The miner who solves the puzzle first is rewarded with bitcoin. The bitcoin mining process also confirms transactions on the cryptocurrency’s network and makes them trustworthy.”
According to Wikipedia, cryptocurrency is “a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network that is not reliant on any central authority, such as a government or bank, to uphold or maintain it.”
Councillors were provided with more information in letters from Fire Technology Corp.’s land agent, Lexterra Land. The letters noted Fire Technology Corp.’s cryptocurrency mining operation is proposed to be 9.9 megawatts, and the company is a subsidiary of Fire Capital, a private fund management company registered in Shanghai, China.
It was stated Fire Capital already has five other cryptocurrency operations under its belt around the world.
Lexterra Land stated Fire Technology Corp.’s proposal won’t encroach minimum setbacks for wildlife features.
They further noted the cryptocurrency mining facility is proposed to sit on the site of a natural gas facility and include seven to nine natural gas generators and seven to nine crypto mining containers plus piping, power cables and office equipment.
The letter further noted Fire Technology Corp. was hoping to begin construction in April or June and be finished by October to December of this year.
Coun. Carrie Fobes asked if the land in question has always been zoned agriculture, and Hazelton responded yes, it’s not unusual in Kneehill for gas plants to be located on land zoned agriculture.
Fobes also asked, if approved, how much power it would require, to which Hazelton responded Fire Technology Corp. is proposing to install its own generators and more detail about that would probably come forth at the public hearing.
Coun. Laura Lee Machell-Cunningham asked if first reading was approved would a public hearing be required? Both Hazelton and Reeve Jerry Wittstock answered that a public hearing must be held for the rezoning request prior to any more readings being considered.
Councillors unanimously approved first reading of the re-zoning bylaw and set the public hearing for May 10.
Local Journalism Initiative reporter