Energo Pro Georgia: "unsustainable" power use persists in Svaneti province due to illegal cryptomining

  • Overloaded power network and electicity cuts have become a recurring issue for the mountainous northern municipality over the recent years. Photo: Nino Alavidze/agenda.ge.

Agenda.ge, 5 Jan 2022 - 15:49, Tbilisi,Georgia

Energy use in the mountainous northern province of Svaneti remains at "unsustainable" levels due to locals' use of cryptomining hardware to take advantage of free electricity, Energo Pro Georgia has warned.

The company, which serves over 1.2 million customers across Georgia, said on Wednesday the Mestia Municipality of the region was consuming 27 megawatts of energy instead of the designated 7, despite the local population pledging on the New Year's Eve to stop using cryptomining.

The latter came on December 30, when residents of the province - which benefits from a free electricity plan to support the hard-to-access region in tourism and other development - made a collective promise to not power on their cryptomining devices in the current winter season.

The pledge followed a warning from municipal authorities on December 24 that told the local population their locality faced a risk of "being left without power", leading to both "household discomfort and a collapse of the tourist season".

Power cuts in the municipality have been frequent during winter over the recent years, as the network becomes overloaded due to heavy use of cryptomining devices, operated by locals to take advantage of free electricity for the province.

The latest of the interruptions came on December 28 and saw teams of professionals from the company having to use a helicopter to reach high-power lines serving the mountainous location to repair damage and restore power delivery following another power cut.

Energo Pro Georgia board of directors chair Mikheil Botsvadze has called the situation a reality that "cannot go on", adding "no network" could handle the loads placed on it by Mestia residents using mining hardware.

The company released comments saying it was removing "all responsibility" from itself due to the circumstances, accusing "harmful" locals of "damaging [interests of] honest customers".

It also revealed recent power use in the mountainous locality had gone back up to the levels of December 2019, following a temporary dip in the use after five million illegal cryptomining devices were confiscated by the company and the police during that winter season.

The update from Energo Pro Georgia also said the company had a "specific plan and experience" necessary to ensure "no illegal mining" in Mestia municipality for the next winter season.