GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Students at East Carolina University held a protest Thursday saying ‘No’ to a crypto plant proposal in the Greenville area.

Crypto mining is the act of gaining cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, by solving crypto equations. Companies are able to do this using high-tech computers. Those in favor of the plant say it would set the city up to be able to recruit other technology companies, which in turn would bring higher-paying jobs and higher-skilled jobs to the community, therefore, increasing the income and tax base.

Some who are against say it could be a huge energy increase for the city, and noise is still one main concern for residents. Those opposed also say they are concerned over impacts on carbon emission and pollution levels.

“There’s a lot of negative effects right now, and our town is not currently equipped to do this,” says ECU sophomore Owen Bergquist. “Crypto mining takes a lot of energy to validate these transactions and currently Greenville uses a lot of its energy for fossil fuels sources. So if we use all this energy for crypto mining our fossil fuels emissions will increase setting us back in our climate goals.” 

Bergquist went on to say in the research his group has done, the plant will only provide about nine jobs and the working conditions of the plant would be dangerous. He told 9OYS he’s also concerned with the effect it will have on taxes, citing a similar plant that only paid $10,000 in taxes over one year. He says the city council has commented that the money will be represented in the city’s savings, but in his calculations that only equates to $6 in savings a year.

ECU Sustainability Manager Chad Carwein encouraged students during Thursday’s protest, giving his personal time off from work to the protest. “My number one concern is the energy use associated with crypto mining.

“The noise concern is still there, especially if you take a look at the way this zoning ordinance has been written, this could be placed anywhere. It could be placed next to an apartment complex, a school, a park, the greenway, it could be as close to ecu as some of these apartment complexes that we’ve seen go up recently.” 

Chad Carwein – ECU Faculty

Following the student-led protest on Jan. 20, the Greenville City Council will meet via Zoom on Jan. 24 to vote on the ordinance after canceling its initial meeting on Jan. 13. According to a statement from the City of Greenville, the meeting was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols.

This isn’t the first time Compute North has attempted to build in Pitt County. Last year, the company tried to rebuild the Belvoir community but pulled its consideration after community pushback.