TOPEKA (KSNT) — A new business venture has embroiled the town of McLouth, Kansas. At Tuesday’s packed city council meeting, McLouth residents heard from a local natural gas company about a proposal to open a data mining center at their current location.
Crypto Colo Center Corp is an oil and gas company based just outside the McLouth in Jefferson County. The company CEO says its primary source of income comes from extracting oil.
The company wants the Jefferson County Commission to sign off on the proposed construction of a data mining center that would run off excess gas they currently produce.
27 News met with Crypto Colo Center Corp’s CEO Max Smetannikov, who gave us a tour of their facilities and operation’s infrastructure.
Crypto Colo Center Corp’s goal is to provide infrastructure and facilities to tech companies like Uber and Google and crypto mining companies they say would boost the local economy like it did to Northern Virginia in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Smetannikov says these companies would use natural gas extracted from the land to produce off-the-grid electricity with their own generators, which would then power a datacenter.
“So we are looking for ways to get rid of this gas,” Max Smetannikov said. “We came along one of these concepts to make our own power — to create a hosting center environment — basically a mini datacenter for companies that need power, that are not on the grid.”
This would be a secondary income for the company and a way of repurposing the gas they can’t use or burn off, but instead compress to meet regulations. This gas comes from well below the Southern Star field, and the business is self-sufficient on gas, water, internet and electricity from the city.
Smetannikov says energy will then be used to power a data center for which they have built their own infrastructure. He says despite concerns, the operation would not be noisy, pollute the area or be a hassle to residents.
However, some McLouth residents at Tuesday’s meeting voiced concerns about potential fires, noise pollution and how this project could dramatically change their way of life.
“Most people when they move out to a place like this or live in a place like this,” Geoffrey Griffiths said. “They’re not looking for the fastest internet. They’re not looking for the big mega infrastructure of the city. Those exist elsewhere. We want to stay rural.”
The McLouth City Council voted to deny recommending the proposal to the Jefferson County Commission. The Jefferson County Commission will have its meeting Monday, Feb. 27 at the Oskaloosa City Hall.