Ameren Corporation, a provider of electric services, announced Monday that it had successfully mined up to 20 Bitcoin using excess energy from one of its coal-based power stations — the Siux Energy Center in West Alton (Mo.).
Although the company had established the data center to mine the coins in April, the company did not announce it publicly until today. The half-megawatt mining plant taps into the 972 MW of Sioux Energy Energy Center to perform the required proof-of-work-based mining activities.
Ameren seems to have had two goals when he launched the operation. To stop the power plant’s decline in energy generation and to generate a new revenue stream. The power plant was operating at 17% of its full capacity when mining began in April.
The company’s environmental impact was immediately questioned after the announcement. An alliance of three environmental groups, the Waterkeeper Alliance and Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper, announced in February that they would sue the company for violating Federal Clean Water Act.
Bruce Morris, an attorney at The Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, stated that “They (Ameren), have responded and are evaluating our options.”
Sioux Energy Complex is located on farmland close to the Mississippi River and is believed to have stored more than 3 million tons of coal-ash in an unlined storage facility. Environmental groups have asked Sioux Energy Complex management to close the coal ash storage pit. However, this has been a difficult request.
Ashtracker, an Energy Integrity Project data-reporting site for energy pollution, has also reported that 15 of the 29 water monitoring points around the plant are polluted beyond Federal advisory levels for boron, molybdenum and sulfate as well as lithium, cobalt, and boron.
The utility completed a $600million plan to upgrade the plant with the most recent environmental controls in 2010. However, Ameren’s mining operation seems to be in direct contradiction of much of the industry’s view on how companies should approach their environmental footprint. Everybody, from Elon Musk to BitMEX’s crypto derivatives trading platform BitMEX, has pledged to reduce mining’s energy and resource consumption. Chief Strategy Officer at BitDigital, Sam V. Tabar, stated that using carbon-neutral energy sources is essential to improve sustainable practices and reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.