A church in Irkutsk, Siberia’s largest state, has been taken to court for draining too much power from the local grid through crypto mining.

Crypto mining in itself is not illegal and Russian law permits reduced power rates for non-government organizations. But, it seems that the church decided to go beyond covering essential heating and lighting and raised extra funds in their own way through crypto mining.

Most churches fundraise for essential repairs, but it seems as though someone in this parish had their own particular use for the extra generation of cash raised by their mining activities. It is not clear if members of the clergy or someone in the parish had locked into the church’s power supply, but the court found for the power company that no case of power theft was suggested, which does indicate that the irregular use of power may have been authorised by the church.

The result means that the church has a tab of $16,000 to pick up and faces their tariffs being raised by the electricity company. More importantly, the case may set a precedent in the courts for future such incidents when excess power is drawn without consultation with local electricity providers. Although not currently legislated for, extreme overuse of power through crypto mining may invite closer government scrutiny if it became a common occurrence.

The cold climate, particularly in locations such as Siberia with its sub-zero temperatures, has made the likes of Russia and Iceland the go-to destinations for industrial level crypto mining. The Russian Association of Crypto Industry and Blockchain (RACIB) claims that there are now over 400,000 people employed in the sector. 70,000 enterprises operate hundreds of thousands of mining rigs, with an increase in one-man operators working from their homes.

Because much of Russia’s mining proceeds go towards foreign investment, locally run mining pools are becoming popular as a way of cutting back on the amount of Russian money going towards overseas enterprises through crypto mining.

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