Powering Strong Communities

Heartland Energy Intern Will Analyze and Report on Bitcoin Mining Impacts on Public Power

South Dakota-based Heartland Energy is seeking applications for a summer Intern who will analyze and report on the impacts of bitcoin mining operations on public utilities.

“The successful candidate will work directly with our Operations team, having the opportunity to advance their knowledge and gain experience working in the wholesale power industry,” the job description for the position notes.

Heartland Energy provides wholesale power to public power communities across South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.  Based in Madison, SD, Heartland Energy also provides a suite of customer service programs including economic development, energy efficiency, cybersecurity and more.

As Heartland Energy is approached with large economic development loads, “we often ask ourselves which customer systems can handle a large addition to their system,” said Nate Jones, Chief Operations Officer at Heartland Energy in response to questions from Public Power Current.

“In addition, it is highly likely that we don’t know the limit that our municipal systems can handle. Many times, we have to respond that our customers wouldn’t be capable of supplying that type of load without significant infrastructure improvements,” he said.

“But in the end, we don’t have any real answers as to what portions of the system would need to be upgraded and what the cost of these upgrades would be. To complicate things further, bitcoin mining operations are looking for short-term deals likely not wanting to pay back lofty infrastructure costs over long periods of time,” Jones said in an email.

Heartland Energy hired a consultant “to tell us what our municipal systems were/are potentially capable of for load additions without the need to add a substation or make major upgrades. For example, perhaps Customer A can handle a 2 MW load addition, but this same load would push Customer B to a breaking point,” he said.

 The internship was designed to fill in the gaps for Heartland for those customers that it didn’t have data for. “The intern would be doing data gathering on the following pieces of information and performing a simple analysis (power system study) to determine the headroom on each system.”

He said that ideally, the intern would collect the following information:

  • One-Line Diagram of substation(s) (with equipment nameplate information, etc.)
  • Electric distribution system map (with circuit locations, conductor sizes, etc.)
  • Existing system loading information pertaining to the circuits/substations
  • Transmission feed(s) and alternate feed(s) and any limiting factors here

Heartland could then send this information to its consultant to analyze and put together a cost matrix for Heartland.

Jones said that the intern will deliver a final report to Heartland Energy at the conclusion of his or her internship.

 “We like all of our interns to deliver an end of the summer presentation and report to staff and our Board,” he noted.