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Silicon Valley dreams collide with small town Kansas

TOPEKA (KSNT) – A new business venture has involved the city of McLouth, Kansas. During Tuesday’s crowded city council meeting, McLouth residents heard from a local natural gas company about a proposal to open a mining center at their current location.

Crypto Colo Center Corp is an oil and gas company headquartered just outside of McLouth in Jefferson County. The CEO of the company says its main source of income comes from oil extraction.

The company wants the Jefferson County Commission to approve a proposed mining center that will dump the excess gas they currently produce.

27 News met with the CEO of Crypto Colo Center Corp, Max Smetannikov, who showed us their facilities and operational infrastructure.

Crypto Colo Center Corp’s goal is to provide infrastructure and facilities to tech companies like Uber and Google as well as cryptocurrency mining companies that they say would boost the local economy as it did Northern Virginia in the 1990s and in the early 2000s.

Smetannikov says these companies would use natural gas pulled from the earth to produce off-the-grid electricity with their own generators, which would then power a data center.

“So we are looking for ways to get rid of this gas,” said Max Smetannikov. “We came up with one of these concepts to create our power — to create a hosting center environment — basically a mini datacenter for businesses that need power, that aren’t on the grid.”

This would be secondary income for the company and a way to reuse gas that they cannot use or burn, but instead compress to meet regulations. This gas comes from well below the Southern Star field and the company is self-sufficient with gas, water, internet and electricity from the city.

Smetannikov says the energy will then be used to power a data center for which they have built their own infrastructure. He says despite the concerns, the operation would not be noisy, pollute the area or disturb residents.

However, some McLouth residents at Tuesday’s meeting expressed concerns about potential fires, noise pollution and how this project could dramatically change their way of life.

“Most people when they move to a place like this or live in a place like this,” said Geoffrey Griffiths. “They’re not looking for the fastest internet. They are not looking for the big mega city infrastructure. Those exist elsewhere. We want to stay rural.”

The McLouth City Council voted to decline recommending the proposal to the Jefferson County Commission. The Jefferson County Commission will hold its meeting on Monday, February 27 at the Oskaloosa City Hall.

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