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Stronghold Curtailed Hashrate at Pennsylvania Bitcoin Mining Site

Hashrate curtailed at a time when bitcoin's transaction fees accounted for 28% of block rewards.

Pennsylvania-based bitcoin mining company Stronghold Digital unexpectedly curtailed hashrate for about a week earlier this month, missing out on the surging transaction fees on the bitcoin network.

The vertically integrated mining company said on Friday – while announcing a $15 million equity raise – that it chose to shut down its own Panther Creek Plant in Carbon County on Dec. 8 to fully resolve ash silo flow issues that caused an unexpected outage.

The repair work was not completed until Dec. 21. During this period, Stronghold said it imported electricity to keep its mining and hosting data centers operational.

However, between Dec. 12 and Dec. 20, the Panther Creek mining site had to curtail its load to between 10 and 50 megawatts (MW) due to local grid PJM’s “system reliability issues and a transmission line outage.”

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Stronghold did not specify how much hashrate was offline but said the operational capacity of the Panther Creek site reached a record high of over 2 EH/s on Dec. 3. It expects to reach that level again soon as the Panther Creek site has “resumed operations without limitations.”

Stronghold owns two power plants in Pennsylvania: the 80 MW Panther Creek Plant in Nesquehoning, Carbon County, and the 85 MW Scrubgrass Plant in Scrubgrass Township, Venango County.

Stronghold curtailed its hashrate amid bitcoin’s soaring transaction fees. Network data shows that the average block rewards between Dec. 12 and Dec. 20 were 8.73 BTC with 28% coming from transaction fees. Bitcoin’s hashprice rallied from $90/PH/s to $136/PH/s before declining to $120/PH/s during the same period.

Apart from the site issues, Stronghold has been facing community pushback regarding its plan to burn tires to fuel power generation at the Panther Creek Plant.

In June, Stronghold applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for approval to burn shredded tires as tire-derived fuel (TDF) at the Panther Creek Plant.

A public hearing was held earlier this week on the matter. Local media outlets reported that the DEA heard opposition to Stronghold’s plan from local community members and environmental groups due to pollution concerns.

However, the report also pointed out that TDF is commonly used as fuel for other industrial facilities such as cement kilns, and pulp and paper plants. Nonetheless, Stronghold’s stock price soared by 30% on Friday and closed at $8.79 per share.