BOZEMAN — At the recent Montana On the Rise Economic Summit, hosted by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) it was announced that a bitcoin mining company plans to build a bitcoin data storage facility in Polson. The bitcoin data storage facility is a collaboration among the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, businessman Kevin O’Leary aka Mr. Wonderful on the reality TV series “Shark Tank” and Bitzero, the company that will build the facility. O’Leary is an investor in Bitzero.
“It’s the new oil, that’s what data is, more valuable than anything else,” O’Leary said at the summit. He called Montana a business-friendly state ala the “Norway model” referring to its welcome mat to business investments and its renewable energy. He lauded Daines and Gov. Greg Gianforte for their business-friendly approach to their policies which he said were key in getting the data center built.
Gianforte said the data center would create employment opportunities.
Daines concurred. “This new investment in the CSKT will support good-paying jobs in Montana, boost Montana’s economy and keep Montana at the forefront of the energy and technology sector,” he said, adding that the deal came together in about two months, and started when O’Leary wanted to find a renewable energy source like hydropower to use for the data center.
The Polson bitcoin data center will require 50-megawatts of power to operate it. That power will be provided by the CSKT owned Séli? Ksanka QÍispé Dam. That will be approximately 25 percent of the 208 megawatts generated by the hydro-electric facility formally known as Kerr Dam.
“We’re excited to announce this new opportunity at Sen. Daines’ economic summit today, which will benefit the nation and connect clean, baseload energy to next-gen computing,” said Tribal Councilman Martin Charlo in a statement.
Bitcoin is a digital currency which operates free of any central control or the oversight of banks or governments. Instead, it relies on peer-to-peer software and cryptography. A public ledger called blockchain records all bitcoin transactions and copies are held on servers around the world.
Bitzero Chief Executive Officer Akbar Shamji announced prior to the Montana On the Rise Economic Summit that it would be opening a $500 million bitcoin data center in North Dakota with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation at the Fort Berthold Reservation. It will be a partnership venture with O’Leary.
Bitzero specializes in bitcoin mining and is touted as being a 100 percent green company. Shamji said that the carbon displacement technology that makes the company carbon neutral was developed in Norway over the last few years.
He said that the company was choosing locations to build data centers that have surplus energy generation.
This story is evolving and reporting may change as details develop.