Noisy Bitcoin mine’s neighbors hope Monday meeting yields answers from power provider | WJHL

July 27, 2021

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – Neighbors of a Bitcoin mine in whose powerful fans have produced high noise levels night after night for months hope the power provider that sells electricity to the mine’s owners — and essentially brought them here — will have some answers for them at a county commission meeting Monday night.

BrightRidge is set to report on noise mitigation efforts at its Bailey Bridge Road substation in the New Salem community of Limestone. Some pasture and Lola Humphreys Road are all that separate Preston Holley’s home from the Red Dog Technologies mine and Holley said the noise continues unabated.

“We’ve not seen any real change,” said Holley, who plans to attend the meeting. “It is continually, it’s loud. And it’s on all the time.” 

Holley did say BrightRidge sound monitors were placed in his yard and several others for a recent two-week period.

BrightRidge had been scheduled to address Washington County commissioners at their June meeting. That was postponed so BrightRidge and Red Dog could gather more data about noise levels, sources and sound travel, and possible mitigation.

BrightRidge released a statement in late June saying it and Red Dog were working toward solutions and hoped to have much more clarity by late July.

Holley said he hopes commissioners – who in February 2020 approved the rezoning that allowed the mine – will ask tough questions tonight. The zoning request did not mention a separate business or a Bitcoin mine, and it said noise from the “blockchain data center” wouldn’t be noticeable from adjacent properties.

BrightRidge officials said in May they had visited a similar Red Dog facility near Knoxville and come away with that conclusion.

“Now that the commission really has time to listen to this and discuss it, it’ll show where we can really go, if we can actually get something done about it or not,” Holley said. “(Commissioners) who have made some comments about it do act like they are really bothered by how it changed our community. It wasn’t what they expected. It wasn’t what they intended on this being.”

Red Dog uses the vast majority of its electricity during “off-peak” hours. That’s when the fans cooling high-powered computer graphics cards make the most noise as the computer equipment solves extremely complex mathematical problems that help verify Bitcoin’s security and also “find” new Bitcoins.

“There are quieter moments in the early afternoon but that’s usually when everybody’s gone to work,” Holley said. “So from 8 o’clock in the evening until late into the morning, well, it roars.” 

At full capacity, BrightRidge said the operation could use enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes. Red Dog quickly became BrightRidge’s biggest customer, largely using power that essentially sits on the grid in the middle of the night.

Holley said he’s become somewhat accustomed to the sound, although when the off-peak power period arrives “it comes back on full force and really fast, and it doesn’t let up.” 

But he doesn’t think people in the community should have to just adapt to the current noise level. 

“The fact that they came into our community with misinformation to everybody, from Brightridge all the way down to us, they need to at least answer to it and acknowledge that this is what’s happened and that ‘here’s what we hope to do about it.’” 

Holley has his plans for the evening set. 

“Make sure that the commissioners and the community knows that this has really affected our community in a negative way and we do first of all want to know that they acknowledge our concerns,” Holley said.