Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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Greenidge generates high-tech opportunities for me and Upstate NY (Guest Opinion by Will Talton)

Will Talton is cryptocurrency datacenter lead at Greenidge Generation in Dresden, New York.

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My name is Will Talton. I’m a father of three and a caretaker of six. I’m a lifelong Upstate New Yorker. I don’t have a college degree, but I’ve worked hard and recently was fortunate to find a great new career, letting me learn and grow in a high-tech industry, which isn’t easy to find Upstate, trust me.

Recently, critics on the pages of The Post-Standard have called for me, and my 50 colleagues, to be fired.

I work at Greenidge Generation, a cryptocurrency datacenter and power generation company in Yates County. Critics have called for our facility to be closed, citing environmental concerns and asking state government to deny our pending application for renewal of an existing air permit.

We are all Upstate New Yorkers with different but similar stories, all seeking opportunities in this region while watching our friends and our children abandon the region. Not because they want to leave, but because they have to leave.

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Previously, I worked at a local bank. With no advanced education, I wasn’t going anywhere; it was a dead end. A friend told me about an opportunity to get into a cutting-edge tech business. Greenidge hired me to work at its crypto datacenter, and because there’s no real handbook for cryptocurrency and everything is on-the-job training, it allowed me to grow. I’m now the cryptocurrency datacenter lead.

My story at the company is pretty typical. And it’s the story critics are missing, and I don’t know why. But I do know how I feel working here: We are providing opportunities for a lot of people who come from all levels of education — who simply don’t have a lot of options in the area. I hear it all the time, they’ve been looking for jobs here and there, bouncing from place to place, and they just tell me, “I like working here.”

We pay double the average salary for the area, with the chance to learn and grow in a future-focused industry. I’m going back to school at night now, and the company is paying for it, something I never would have had the chance to do in any other job.

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Those opposing our facility have called on state government to deny our permit governing air emissions, which would shut the facility down. I support concerns about all environmental impacts, I worry about the future of our planet for my children, too. But this isn’t some 1990s binary debate on business vs. environment. New York can continue to lead in protecting the environment while embracing this new industry.

Our facility’s current permitted emissions level can represent no more than 0.2% of the state’s ambitious emissions goals for 2030 and the company has offered to quickly cut permitted emissions by an additional 40%, and eventually reach zero carbon emissions by 2035, five years before the state’s target for the electricity generating sector.

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I definitely see more opportunity within Greenidge and growing my career. As a man of color, having my kids see me working on the cutting edge of the economy has been very special.

Recently, I was able to bring my two youngest to the plant. They just were in awe. When they grow up, they’ll start to see and understand cryptocurrency. They’ll have pictures, memories of that visit, and they’ll look back and say, “Wow, we were part of that. My Dad was part of building that.”

I wish those who are calling for our closure could see what I see: a facility that poses no threat to the state’s important climate goals and is providing an incredible opportunity to bring our region into the 21st century.

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