By John Balch
The Murfreesboro City Council has passed an ordinance to regulate data centers used for crypto mining, a confusing process that apparently uses massive amounts of electricity and creates a lot of noise.
The council got the ordinance passed under the Aug. 1 cutoff for a federal guideline that protects crypto mining ventures from discrimination. Murfreesboro joined Pike County, as well as many cities and counties throughout the state in adopting safeguards associated with the process before the deadline.
Crypto mining is a process to create digital currency (bitcoins), according to online reports. In order to regulate the creation of digital currency, a system called a blockchain forms a digital chain of blocks which each one containing 6.25 bitcoins.
To get to the bitcoins in the blocks, miners have to solve complex equations. The first one right wins the currency.
The process involves hundreds sometimes thousands of computers, all pulling electricity and being cooled by massive units and generators. One online report stated that “the process of mining one bitcoin consumes enough electricity to power a 65-inch LED TV for 98 yers continuously.”
The ordinance adopted by Murfreesboro stated the process will “generate a broadband noise and low-frequency hums that result in noise disturbance. Noise disturbance is the cause of of degradation and may produce negative impacts on public health, property and the environment.”
Also, all data centers within the city limits will have to be built to “incorporate external noise attenuation measures in order” to curb the noise – such as using sound-absorbing materials.
Crypto miners looking to set up in the city will have to give ample notice to surrounding property owners, submit to pre- and post-noise tests and submit a noise attenuation plan. Operations will not be allowed until the regulations are met.
Noise tests will be used as needed such as complaints and normal monitoring. Any sound coming from the mining operation that gets over 65 decibels between 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 55 or higher decibels between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. will constitute a disturbance and operations will be ceased until remedied.
Violating the ordinance will result in a misdemeanor citation and, upon conviction, a fine of $1,000 will assessed “or double that sum for repetition of the offense or violation.” The data center is not in compliance it could result in a $500 fine for each day it continues to operate.
Ordinance No. 2023-4 was approved July 26 during a special-called council meeting.