A court ruling in Russia recently determined that a church must pay higher electricity fees, due to the fact that they are running cryptocurrency mining hardware on the property. Although this is an isolated court ruling, it certainly has implications for private citizens, who are mining in their own homes.
“Grace”, the evangelical religious organization involved, denied that the electricity was used to mine cryptocurrency. This is not surprising, considering that Eastern Europe enjoys low subsidized electricity rates, which leads many to mine crypto in their own home. The current legislation requires those who mine cryptocurrency to pay higher electricity rates, a claim which the church, located in Irkutsk, Russia, has denied.
The regional electricity provider, Irkutskenegro, noticed a significant electricity spike from the church last year. Inspectors from the company even found computing hardware at the church, in a server room on the second floor. The company has stated that the amount of electricity consumes actually endangers the neighboring area.
The church asked for a refund of 1.1 million rubles from the company, which totals to over $16,000 USD. Irkutsk Arbitration Court sided with Irkutskenegro, despite the church’s claims that the electricity was utilized for heating purposes and to produce religious material. The court pointed out that the time period in question was during the summer, so the “heating” explanation was unlikely.
Energy is much cheaper for private individuals and for certain organizations, including churches, in Eastern Europe. In fact, the court ruled that even though the church did consume more electricity, that it should still be charged lower than the standard rate. Many wonder whether this will cause repercussions, and whether the state will force private individuals to start paying higher rates in order to mine cryptocurrency.
This is not the first time that an organization has been mining cryptocurrency when it shouldn’t have in Russia, as Russian engineers at the Russian Nuclear Center are facing criminal charges for using a supercomputer to mine bitcoin earlier this year.
One of the reasons that cryptocurrency mining has gained popularity in Russia is due to Dmitry Marinichev, Vladimir Putin’s advisor for internet affairs. In fact, he recently raised millions of dollars for the ICO of the Russian Miner Coin.
Of course, time will tell whether this court ruling will actually affect those who mine cryptocurrency in the comfort of their own home.