KEPCO, the South Korean state energy company, announced that it would start overseeing and auditing companies that it suspects of using industrial and agricultural electricity for cryptocurrency mining. According to Seoul Kyungjae, the power supply distributed for both industries are cheaper than the electricity used for general use.
Authorities are concerned about the increasing use of crypto mining powered by cheap electricity because it leads to a significant deficit in the incomes of KEPCO, as the mining farms run 24 hours a day. “We have started a field investigation targeting customers who use electricity a lot among agricultural and industrial customers, and the related investigation will be conducted by the end of this month,” a KEPCO official said on the matter.
In fact, electricity spent for industrial and agricultural purposes is subsidized mainly by the government. However, KEPCO believes there are suspicious people secretly mining cryptocurrencies by using subsidized power. But, this is not the first time that the state-run energy company is launching a crackdown on the illegal usage of electricity for crypto mining.
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In 2018, KEPCO found that 38 companies used industrial and agricultural power to run digital asset mining, leading to multiple investigations and fines for about 500 million Korean won. The crackdown was possible due to a survey conducted by the company, which spotted a sudden surge in the electricity rates and irregular patterns in the usage of the power.
Furthermore, KEPCO officials are concerned that crypto mining farms could lead to overload power systems, and eventually, it can affect transmission and distribution that end on a blackout. “Recently, as the value of a virtual currency rises, the amount of electricity used in violation of the contract seems to be increasing. If caught, a penalty may be charged by adding a penalty to the unfair profit, and if the penalty is not paid, the power can be cut off,” a representative from the energy company added.