The accusations against the school district staff align with the recent crackdown by the U.S. energy regulator on cryptocurrency mining operations.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has accused two top officials from the Patterson Joint Unified School District of running a cryptocurrency mining operation across the district’s 10 schools, allegedly using school resources and significantly increasing electricity expenses.
“They acquired high-end graphics cards and utilized these cards, along with other school district assets and electricity, to run a cryptocurrency mining farm within the school district.”
The statement, however, did not specify the number of schools within the district that were involved in the crypto mining operation, a district that includes 10 schools catering to approximately 6,200 students. It also did not reveal which type of cryptocurrency was being mined.
Among the cryptocurrencies frequently mined are Bitcoin (BTC), with its value currently down at $42,608, Monero (XMR), which is up at $167, Ravencoin (RVN), and Dogecoin (DOGE), with its value decreasing by $0.08.
According to recent data from CoinGecko, mining a single Bitcoin as a solo miner requires about 266,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. This would take approximately seven years, requiring a monthly electricity consumption of 143 kWh
In addition to other alleged fraudulent activities, the DOJ asserted that Menge embezzled an amount ranging between $1 million and $1.5 million, while Drabert was accused of stealing between $250,000 and $300,000.
This development coincides with the recent actions by the U.S. energy regulator, who is actively targeting crypto miners as part of an effort to reduce energy wastage across the nation.
As of February 1, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has mandated that crypto miners must disclose their energy usage for the next six months. This decision comes in response to apprehensions regarding the recent spike in Bitcoin prices, which has resulted in an increased prevalence of cryptocurrency mining operations.
Just a day prior to this announcement, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) declared its plans to issue a survey next week aimed at gauging the electricity consumption of local cryptocurrency mining firms. These miners will be “obligated to provide responses detailing their energy consumption.”
The issue of excessive electricity consumption by cryptocurrency mining operations is not confined to the United States alone.
Regulators around the globe are taking steps to address this concern. For instance, in December 2023, Cointelegraph reported that police authorities in Indonesia shut down 10 Bitcoin mining operations, alleging that the operators were involved in electricity theft totaling nearly $1 million.