While scholars have studied the impacts of energy development booms on local communities in the U.S., much less is known about towns experiencing energy consumption booms from industries such as cryptocurrency mining. This article proposes that energy consumption boomtowns are unique in the risks, benefits, and conflicts they create—and that they provide fruitful areas of research for energy social scientists. We illustrate this point with a brief case study of Chelan County, Washington—where an influx of crypto mining over the past five years has stirred community debate. We collected more than 100 newspaper articles, public comments, and public meeting recordings to identify the cautions, hesitations, and criticisms that have caused local regulators to take a precautionary approach. We highlight five key points of the debate that may be of interest to energy social scientists: (1) impacts on the local energy supply and prices, (2) unclear socioeconomic benefits to the county, (3) the illegitimacy of cryptocurrency, (4) environmental considerations, and (5) a disconnect with local legacy industries and community economic identity. We conclude by proposing areas of future social science research on energy consumption booms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)