bitcoin

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The price of bitcoin set another new all-time high Wednesday, shooting past $13,000. The meteoric rise in the value of bitcoin and lesser known virtual currencies is having a real world effect in the Pacific Northwest.

Entrepreneurs are bombarding the public utilities in Central Washington with requests for cheap hydropower to run bitcoin computers.

Marko Ahtisaari / Flickr - tinyurl.com/z7gay8n

Some players in an emerging technology industry in central Washington state are about to face higher electric bills. That’s because a major utility wants to protect itself from the uncertainties surrounding the trade in virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

Salcido Connection, Inc.

One of the Northwest’s selling points is its cheap hydropower. That’s why in recent years data centers have sprouted along the Columbia River in both Washington and Oregon.

But in north central Washington, an emerging power-hungry industry is meeting with some resistance. It involves the making and managing of the virtual currency called bitcoin.

Wikimedia

The group behind the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Oregon is now accepting bitcoin contributions.

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia just announced that it will start accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings. The online travel site is embracing the volatile, virtual currency on what it calls a "test-and-learn" basis.

Rae Ellen Bichell / KPLU

The world's first Bitcoin ATM launched last year in Vancouver, Canada. Now there's also a physical place in the U.S. Northwest to buy and sell the virtual currency.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Here's a surprising fact: the largest bitcoin "mine" in North America is located on the outskirts of Wenatchee, Wash.