Arkansas Nuclear One Unit 1 Mines Bitcoin



By John Offalé
Radio Free Ozarks Business Reporter
January 27th, 2022

One of two nuclear reactor units comprising Arkansas’s sole nuclear power plant will be disconnected from the state’s electric grid in early 2023 and instead be used to power Entergy Arkansas’ new on-site Bitcoin mining facility, tentatively scheduled for completion by the end of 2022. Details of this plan were first revealed to Radio Free Ozarks by a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity and another round of IPAs.

Bitcoin, the most popular form of digital cryptocurrency in the world, can be electronically “mined” in an increasingly difficult and power-hungry computing process. As of early 2022, all of the Bitcoin mining going on worldwide uses slightly more electricity than the entire country of Austria. Today, Bitcoin mining may only be accomplished by massive, dedicated, computing installations that require an astonishing amount of computing horsepower and electricity. [Editor’s Note: The details of mining, storage, and use of Bitcoin is beyond the scope of this article and beyond the ability of our readers to understand.]

Currently the largest crypto mining facilities in the world use between 20 and 100 Megawatts (MW) each. If the full 836 MW output of Unit 1 at Arkansas Nuclear One were dedicated to Bitcoin mining, it would become the the largest mining rig in the world by at least a factor…well it would be really big. It would also be the world’s first nuclear power plant exclusively dedicated to this task. The Unit 2 plant will apparently remain operational and will still feed the state electric grid.

A review of the work of the 2021 Arkansas Legislature shows some vague wording inserted into a bill at the last minute apparently does allow for this repurposing of Entergy’s electricity-producing assets. At the time, Rep. Jason Bogard (R-Davis County), the amendment’s sponsor, described this language as allowing Entergy to shut down an additional coal-fired plant, which an Entergy spokesman later described as “unlikely”. Rep. Bogard’s office could not be contacted for comment due to a standing restraining order.

Rick Llamo, Entergy Arkansas’ Chief Technology Officer, spoke on January 14th at an informal executive luncheon held in Little Rock, where the plan was first revealed. The off-site event, held at a gentlemen’s club in southwest Little Rock, was apparently invitation-only. A special embossed placard was required for entry to the “Businessman’s Special” party room, but otherwise there was no advance announcement and no formal security for the event. Radio Free Ozarks’ source was already inside the club at the time of the meeting and was able to witness the presentation. Llamo wore casual clothing, consisting of jeans, skate shoes, and a T-shirt with “CRYPTO BRO BALLER” written on it in large, yellow lettering, somewhat in contrast with his salt-and-pepper hair color. The CTO spoke to a group of around 12 people, which included Rep. Bogard, after a quick lunch of spicy chicken wings that were served family-style, with a pitcher of beer on every table.

“With Bitcoin heading to the moon and beyond this is dope for our shareholders,” Llamo said, using an unusual, loud, screeching hip-hop speaking style that our source said was reminiscent of the Beastie Boys’ 1986 album “License to Ill”. “I did not say customers!” Llamo yelled, “I said shareholders, (expletive). Share (expletive) holders, (expletive) them! Ka-ching! What price can you put on infinity?! We have the whole (expletive) Dardanelle reservoir and we use it to cool Unit 1 but we’ll also use it to cool the new golden mining rigs. Water cooled rigs, ya pigs! (Expletive), it all ends up as heat, (burp) in the lake. Fish like to (expletive) in it! I am the Chief Crypto Officer for Entergy and I’m a baller! Honest. Gotta move the spent fuel rods around, maybe move the oldest ones outside, [to] get enough room for the rigs. Wall-to-wall GPUs. A thing of beauty! Ka-pow!” Llamo added several awkward air-kicks for effect.

Entergy CTO Rick Llamo rapping
Rick Llamo (Entergy video, via YouTube)

“Now, sometimes we may need to ration power or institute rolling blackouts,” the Entergy CTO yelled, creating a stir in the audience. “I’m talking about an electricity blackout. But look, we’ve got coal-fired plants. If the homeys shovel the coal balls-to-the-wall and we don’t trip we’ll be okay mostly. Stoke them double-banger coal plants until they glow red at night. Bam!”

Distracted by an attendee who asked a question about Entergy’s promises to close the White Bluff and Independence coal-fired plants before 2030, Llamo at first seemed not to understand the question. “Did we promise that? Why the (expletive) would we promise that? That would be (expletive) stupid! Aw (expletive) yes, people are really going to be (expletive) without two coal plants. Granny with her [inaudible] oxygen machine. Hope it’s got a new battery! Change that thing every 18 months? Whup!? Any more questions, (expletive)?”

An attendee raised their hand and started to ask a question, but their speaking was made inaudible when Llamo used a remote control to start some very loud techno-style music. Llamo yelled over the music, “What?! I can’t hear your (expletive) question! End of meeting! Bring the girl out! Bam!” With that said, the attention of the executives in attendance quickly refocused on the session’s entertainment. A dancer, whose badge gave her name as Wichita, provided a performance piece of an adult nature. Wichita performed while dressed, at least initially, as an Entergy lineman.