SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
|☒||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021
|☐||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For transition period from to
Commission File Number 001-40931
Stronghold Digital Mining, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
595 Madison Avenue, 28th Floor
New York, New York
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (212) 967-5294
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
|Class A common stock||SDIG||The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 of Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☐||Accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☒||Smaller reporting company||☒|
|Emerging growth company||☒|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act): Yes ☐ No ☒
As of June 30, 2021, the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the Registrant's Class A common stock was not listed on a domestic exchange or over-the-counter market. The Registrant's Class A common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market on October 20, 2021.
As of March 25, 2022, the registrant had 20,016,067 shares of Class A common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, and 28,209,600 shares of Class V common stock, par value $0.0001 per share, outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Information required in response to Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K (this "Form 10-K") (Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14) is hereby incorporated by reference to portions of the Registrant’s Proxy Statement for the 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The Proxy Statement will be filed by the Registrant with the Securities and Exchange Commission no later than 120 days after the end of the Registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2021.
Table of Contents
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This Form 10-K contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (set forth in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act")), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). In particular, statements pertaining to our trends, liquidity, capital resources, and future performance, among others, contain forward-looking statements. You can identify forward-looking statements by the use of forward-looking terminology including, but not limited to, “believes,” “expects,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “seeks,” “approximately,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates” or “anticipates” or the negative of these words and phrases or similar words or phrases which are predictions of or indicate future events or trends and which do not relate solely to historical matters. You can also identify forward-looking statements by discussions of strategy, plans or intentions.
Forward-looking statements involve numerous risks and uncertainties and you should not rely on them as predictions of future events. Forward-looking statements depend on assumptions, data or methods which may be incorrect or imprecise and we may not be able to realize them. We do not guarantee that the transactions and events described will happen as described (or that they will happen at all).
Forward-looking statements may include statements about:
•the hybrid nature of our business model, which is highly dependent on the price of Bitcoin;
•our dependence on the level of demand and financial performance of the crypto asset industry;
•our ability to manage our growth, business, financial results and results of operations;
•uncertainty regarding our evolving business model;
•our ability to raise capital to fund our business and growth;
•our ability to maintain sufficient liquidity to fund operations, growth and acquisitions;
•our substantial indebtedness and its effect on our results of operations and our financial condition;
•our ability to retain management and key personnel;
•our ability to enter into purchase agreements and acquisitions;
•our ability to maintain our relationships with our third party brokers and our dependence on their performance;
•public health crises, epidemics, and pandemics such as the coronavirus ("COVID-19") pandemic;
•our ability to procure crypto asset mining equipment from foreign-based suppliers;
•developments and changes in laws and regulations, including increased regulation of the crypto asset industry through legislative action and revised rules and standards applied by The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network under the authority of the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act and the Investment Company Act;
•the future acceptance and/or widespread use of, and demand for, Bitcoin and other crypto assets;
•our ability to respond to price fluctuations and rapidly changing technology;
•our ability to operate our coal refuse power generation facilities as planned;
•our ability to avail ourselves of tax credits for the clean-up of coal refuse piles; and
•legislative or regulatory changes, and liability under, or any future inability to comply with, existing or future energy regulations or requirements.
We caution you that the forward-looking statements contained in this Form 10-K are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, most of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control. These risks include, but are not limited to, decline in demand for our products and services, the seasonality and volatility of the crypto asset industry, our acquisition strategies, the inability to comply with developments and changes in regulation, cash flow and access to capital, maintenance of third party relationships, the COVID-19 pandemic and the other risks described in this Form 10-K. Should one or more of the risks or uncertainties described in this Form 10-K occur, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results and plans could differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements.
All forward-looking statements, expressed or implied, included in this Form 10-K are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. This cautionary statement should also be considered in connection with any subsequent written or oral forward-looking statements that we or persons acting on our behalf may issue.
Any forward-looking statement that we make in this Form 10-K speaks only as of the date of such statement. Except as otherwise required by applicable law, we disclaim any duty to update any forward-looking statements, all of which are expressly qualified by the statements in this section, to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Form 10-K.
Item 1. Business
Stronghold Digital Mining, Inc. (“Stronghold Inc.,” the “Company,” “we,” “us,” or “our”) was incorporated as a
Delaware corporation on March 19, 2021. We are a vertically integrated crypto asset mining company currently focused on mining Bitcoin. We wholly-own and operate two low-cost, environmentally-beneficial coal refuse power generation facilities. The first is a facility that we upgraded in Scrubgrass Township, Pennsylvania, (the “Scrubgrass Plant”) and it is recognized as an Alternative Energy System, because coal refuse is classified under Pennsylvania law as a Tier II Alternative Energy Source (large-scale hydropower is also classified in this tier). We also have a facility in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania (the “Panther Creek Plant”) which is also recognized as an Alternative Energy System. We are committed to generating our energy and managing our assets sustainably, and we believe that we are one of the first vertically integrated crypto asset mining companies with a focus on environmentally beneficial operations. Simply put, we employ 21st century crypto mining techniques to remediate the impacts of 19th and 20th century coal mining in some of the most environmentally neglected regions of the United States. We believe our power generation facilities are environmentally beneficial because we remove legacy coal refuse and facilitate the remediation of land and water, with power generation being the byproduct of this activity, and this is described in more detail under “Environmental Matters.”
Owning our own source of power helps us to produce Bitcoin at one of the lowest prices among our publicly traded peers. We also believe that owning our own power source makes us a more attractive partner to crypto asset mining equipment purveyors. For example, we have been able to enter into partnerships with crypto asset industry participants, including miner sharing arrangements, because we offered competitive power rates in a mutually beneficial arrangement. We believe other miner manufacturers or suppliers may be more willing to work with us because our vertical integration and industrial scale make us a dependable partner. We have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to purchase a third coal refuse power generation facility (the “Third Plant”). We intend to leverage these competitive advantages to continue to grow our business through the opportunistic acquisition of additional power generating assets and miners. On March 28, 2022, we restructured the Hosting Agreement (as defined below) on favorable terms to obtain an additional 2,675 miners at cost of $37.5 per terahash (to be paid five months after delivery) and temporarily reduced profit share for this partner while incorporating performance thresholds until the data center build-out is complete.
As of March 24, 2022 we operate approximately 20,500 crypto asset miners with hash rate of approximately 1.9 exahash per second (“EH/s”). We also have in place purchase agreements for an additional 29,400 miners to be delivered with total hash rate capacity of approximately 3.0 EH/s, including 11,700 miners with total hash rate capacity of approximately 1.2 EH/s associated with the delayed and uncertain order from MinerVa Semiconductor Corp. (“MinerVa”). We anticipate this will bring our total hash rate capacity to over 4.3 EH/s by December 2022 if no additional miners are received from MinerVa. If all 11,700 of the remaining MinerVa miners are delivered before year end, we would estimate achieving a hash rate capacity of up to 5.5 EH/s at year end. We do not know when the remaining MinerVa miners will be delivered, if at all. Additionally, we are evaluating all available remedies under the MinerVa Purchase Agreement.
As we produce Bitcoin through our mining operations, we will from time to time exchange Bitcoins for fiat currency based on our internal cash management policy. We intend to hold enough fiat currency or hedge enough of our Bitcoin exposure to cover our projected near-term fiat currency needs, including liabilities and anticipated expenses and capital
expenditures. In identifying our fiat currency needs, we will assess market conditions and review our financial forecast. We safeguard and keep private our digital assets by utilizing storage solutions provided by Coinbase Global, NYDIG and Anchorage Digital, which require multi-factor authentication and utilize cold and hot storage. While we are confident in the security of our digital assets, we are evaluating additional measures to provide additional protection.
Our Competitive Strengths
•Environmentally beneficial, coal refuse-powered electricity generation classified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a Tier II alternative energy source. Our Scrubgrass Plant, the Panther Creek Plant and the Third Plant, respectively, are powered by coal refuse. Coal refuse is a waste product historically generated by coal mining in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, and coal refuse is a significant contributor to air and water pollution in these geographies. Because generating power from the coal refuse facilitates its removal and reclamation of the land, coal refuse is classified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a Tier II Alternative Energy Source, a classification that also applies to other energy sources such as large-scale hydropower. Both the Scrubgrass Plant and Panther Creek Plant are recognized as Alternative Energy Systems. In contrast, most of our competitors with integrated power assets rely on traditional fuels, such as coal or natural gas. Given the power-intensive nature of crypto asset mining and the implications for the environment with regards to the current widespread availability of coal refuse piles in Pennsylvania that may be used in the waste-to-power process, we believe that our access to inexpensive, environmentally-beneficial power represents a meaningful and durable competitive advantage. In addition, we believe that buyers of the Bitcoin we mine could ascribe value due to the environmentally-beneficial manner in which they were mined as it results in the removal of legacy coal refuse and facilitates the remediation of land and water, with power generation being the byproduct of this activity.
•Vertically integrated crypto asset mining and power generation operations, driving among the lowest costs of crypto asset production in our industry. We operate vertically integrated power generation and crypto asset mining operations. Our miners are located on the same premises as our Scrubgrass and Panther Creek Plants to maximize efficiency and minimize cost. The Scrubgrass and Panther Creeks Plants’ recognition as Alternative Energy Systems also allows us to earn renewable energy tax credits (“RECs”) under Pennsylvania law, and coal refuse is inexpensive and in abundant supply near our operations.
•Strong track record of acquiring and operating power assets. Our management team has a distinguished track record of sourcing, financing, and operating power assets. Gregory A. Beard, our Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, previously served as Senior Partner and Head of Natural Resources at Apollo Global Management Inc. and as a Founding Member and Managing Director at Riverstone Holdings LLC, two leading private equity firms. During his private equity tenure, Mr. Beard sourced and led 23 energy investments, representing $8.8 billion in proceeds. William B. Spence, our Co-Chairman, has 40 years of energy-related experience. Mr. Spence was the owner and operator of Coal Valley/Dark Diamond, a coal refuse power generation facility, from 1993 to 2007. Mr. Spence was also the former independent operator of our Scrubgrass Plant prior to our formation.
Our Growth Strategies
•Acquire additional environmentally-beneficial power generation assets. We have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the Third Plant, which is a coal refuse plant. We also anticipate a favorable outcome of our ongoing due diligence of the Third Plant; however, there is no assurance that the acquisition of the Third Plant will be completed as such acquisition is subject to due diligence and the negotiation of a definitive agreement. Additionally, we are strategically considering acquisition opportunities for additional power assets. Powered by the Scrubgrass and Panther Creek Plants and potential subsequent power asset acquisitions, we have developed a plan to build out our aggregate mining capacity to approximately 300 megawatts ("MW") by the end of 2022
which is dependent on the acquisition of the Third Plant or other similarly situated power assets that remain subject to diligence and negotiation of definitive documents. We believe that our expected expansion of power generation capacity dedicated to Bitcoin mining is repeatable and scalable. With the extensive experience and relationships that our leadership team has in the industry, we have an acquisition pipeline of additional environmentally-friendly power assets, and we believe that the acquisition of additional power generation facilities will enable us to drive further growth in crypto asset mining.
•Continue to opportunistically source new miners through our multiple procurement channels to accelerate our business plan and increase our mining capacity. We have recently executed purchase orders for the acquisition of miners from a manufacturer, a Bitcoin mining and datacenter operator (for MicroBT miners), and multiple miner brokers (for Canaan and Bitmain Technologies Limited ("Bitmain") miners). We believe that these recent confirmed purchase orders demonstrate our ability to leverage the breadth of our relationships to expand our mining capacity. By operating the Scrubgrass and Panther Creek Plants at capacity and through the anticipated acquisition and buildout of the Third Plant, we would expect to grow our mining operations to approximately 4.3 EH/s by December 2022 if no additional miners are received from MinerVa. If all 11,700 of the remaining MinerVa miners are delivered before year end, we would estimate achieving a hash rate capacity of up to 5.5 EH/s at year end. We do not know when the remaining MinerVa miners will be delivered, if at all. We expect to benefit from these strong relationships to purchase additional miners on favorable economic terms as we continue to expand our power generation capacity through the acquisition of additional plants.
•Drive operational excellence and structure alignment with key industry partners, including equipment manufacturers, power generation facility owners and the broader crypto currency and investment ecosystem. We are committed to building the leading vertically integrated crypto asset mining and environmentally-beneficial power generation platform. To achieve this objective, we have developed a network of technology and service providers, and we are emphasizing long-term partnerships and equity alignment. For example, we believe that we negotiated favorable economic and delivery terms for the purchase of miners by providing an equity incentive to certain sellers of the miners, subject to meeting specified performance obligations. Similarly, our anticipated partnership with our Bitcoin mining and datacenter operator provides for sharing of the economic rights to Bitcoin produced by the partnership, motivating our partner to manage mining operations to achieve maximum efficiency. By aligning interests, we believe that we are driving operational excellence, thereby enabling further expansion and accelerating our growth.
Environmentally Beneficial Operations
The Scrubgrass Plant, our first power generation facility, is located on a 650-acre site in Scrubgrass Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania, and is recognized as an Alternative Energy System because coal refuse is classified under Pennsylvania law as a Tier II Alternative Energy Source. The Scrubgrass Plant currently has the capacity to produce approximately 83.5 MW of electricity utilizing circulating fluidized bed (“CFB”) technology. Our second facility, the Panther Creek Plant, is located on a 33-acre site in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania, and is also recognized as an Alternative Energy System and has the capacity to produce approximately 80 MW of electricity utilizing CFB technology.
Using this CFB technology, the Scrubgrass Plant and Panther Creek Plant convert highly polluting coal refuse, a legacy waste from decades of coal mining currently found in sites throughout Pennsylvania and neighboring states, into power and also yield beneficial use ash, a by-product of the combustion process that can be used as fertilizer and filler in other reclamation projects.
The operation of our power generation facilities with coal refuse allows the reclamation of large geographic areas that have been ravaged by the presence of coal refuse, the environmentally harmful byproduct of Pennsylvania’s legacy coal-mining operations. Coal refuse is a non-renewable fossil fuel constituting a Tier II Alternative Energy Source under Pennsylvania law, the combustion of which results in air emissions, including carbon dioxide ("CO2"), nitrogen oxides ("NOx"), sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, which are subject to regulation as pollutants under the federal Clean Air Act (as amended from time to time, the "CAA") and analogous state law. Tier I Alternative Energy Sources under Pennsylvania law include “clean” renewable sources such as solar photovoltaic energy, wind power, and low-impact hydropower, which sources do not result in the emission of regulated pollutants and generally are not subject to the same level of regulatory scrutiny. Nonetheless, the coal refuse targeted for combustion by us is from existing legacy coal refuse piles, and the refuse’s conversion into a power source as well as the subsequent reclamation of the refuse pile areas constitute environmentally-beneficial aspects of our power generation facility, as we discuss herein. As coal refuse is not a renewable source, the sustainability of this waste-to-power process is dependent upon the continued availability of coal refuse for economic transport from former coal mines to our power generation facility. Additionally, we recognize that combustion of coal refuse results in offsetting adverse impacts to the environment, which impacts do not arise when using clean renewables such as Pennsylvania Tier I wind and solar photovoltaic energy sources.
Coal mining began in earnest in Pennsylvania in the later part of the 19th century to help meet the nation’s growing demand for steel, and continued through the 20th century as Pennsylvania and other coal producing states mined the fuel needed to power the industrial revolution in the United States and fight two World Wars. While the placement of coal refuse became more strictly regulated with the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (“SMCRA”), the decades of operations prior to the SMCRA’s adoption produced large piles of refuse near now-abandoned coal mining operations. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (“BAMR”) estimates that today there are 840 coal refuse sites, covering approximately 9,000 acres, filled by over 220 million tons of coal refuse in legacy piles located throughout the state. We estimate that, based on the number of coal refuse sites we are currently reclaiming in close proximity to the Scrubgrass Plant, there is at least 30 years’ worth of fuel available for that plant alone. We expect the additional plants that we intend to acquire will also have access to a multi-year supply of coal refuse.
In 2015, Pennsylvania estimated that the cost to remediate Abandon Mine Land and Acid Mine Drainage (“AMD”) sites in Pennsylvania could be as high as $20 billion, of which reclamation of coal refuse piles represented a $2 billion burden. Coal refuse piles produce significant, adverse local and regional environmental consequences, including the harmful leaching of acidity, iron and iron oxide, aluminum, manganese, and sulfate residues into waterways resulting in significant AMD. This leachate creates both surface water and groundwater contamination and produces streams, ponds and lakes that can be devoid of aquatic life. AMD is the largest non-point source water pollutant in these Pennsylvania communities and afflicts watersheds downstream from the coal refuse piles, while also reducing potable water supplies.
The coal refuse piles cover large areas of otherwise productive land and pose negative consequences for air quality in the surrounding communities. Uncontrolled fugitive dust from these piles creates particulate matter pollution and can act as a wind-borne pathogen, posing significant risks to human health. The piles themselves can also ignite. Wildfires, lightning strikes and campfires on the surface can quickly turn into bigger issues such as underground mine fires. Unattended piles can also spontaneously combust through an oxidation process that generates heat and consequently ignites the combustible components of piles. Burning piles, especially underground fires in the absence of oxygen, produce a variety of adverse uncontrolled ambient impacts, including smoke, particulate, and the release of poisonous and noxious gases – often at ground level. These gases, including carbon monoxide, CO2, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, sulfur trioxide, and NOx and a variety of volatile organic compounds – are all potentially harmful to human, animal and vegetative life. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP"), as of December 14, 2020, there were 40 coal refuse piles burning in Pennsylvania, and over the past decades hundreds of others have burned. PADEP has estimated that 6.6 million tons of coal refuse burn each year in unintended, uncontrolled fires, releasing 9
million tons of CO2 and numerous other air pollutants. When fires occur, the budgets of these environmentally and often economically challenged communities are hardest hit, and it may take years to extinguish the fire.
The CFB technology employed by the Scrubgrass Plant, Panther Creek Plant and other coal refuse reclamation facilities was developed to burn coal refuse and similar low-BTU substances by combining the waste with limestone injection for acid gas control in specialized CFB boilers and injecting streams of hot air. These units are also equipped with fabric filter systems to control filterable particulate matter (“FPM”) emissions. The coal refuse-powered units control emissions of sulfur dioxide, NOx, air toxins, FPM and total particulate matter. These units are some of the lowest emitters of mercury and FPM in the nation. The solid materials are consumed in the combustion process and the by-products are steam, which powers electricity generators, and beneficial use ash, an inert non-acidic substance that can be used in remediation and reclamation activities. The removal, remediation and reclamation of the polluting piles contributes to a majority of the operating costs of one of these specialized power generation facilities. This business model results in the most efficient method to comprehensively remove the hazardous materials from the environment and remediate the polluting impacts.
Our ownership of the Scrubgrass and Panther Creek Plants combined with the environmental benefits which accrue to the region allow us to mine Bitcoin at what we believe to be some of the lowest costs in the industry while making a transformational contribution to the environment.
Low-Cost Power Generation
Given that the price of electricity has a significant impact on the ultimate economics and profitability of crypto asset mining, we believe long-term value is enabled primarily by the reduction of power costs and securing environmentally-beneficial power generation assets. Our miners are powered by the electricity produced by our own assets. This contributes to our value creation strategy, which is based on four concepts: (i) securing and operating low-cost, environmentally beneficial energy assets, (ii) protecting operational profitability and efficiently managing risk across different pricing environments, (iii) optimizing returns over invested capital through strategic and innovative sourcing of power and mining equipment (including through partnerships with suppliers) and (iv) potentially extending the economic life of our equipment through the use of low cost of power.
Due to the specialized nature of coal refuse power generation facilities that utilize CFB technology, we estimate the replacement cost for an electricity generation facility utilizing this technology that operates on the scale of our Scrubgrass Plant would be approximately $500 million.
As part of our strategy of securing environmentally beneficial power generation assets for crypto asset mining, we have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the Third Plant, another coal refuse reclamation-to-energy facility that utilizes CFP technology with 112 MW of net electricity generation capacity located in Pennsylvania. These facilities are each waste removal and environmental remediation businesses that generate and sell electricity to pay for the environmental reclamation work that they perform. We intend to opportunistically acquire such electricity generation assets to power our increasing crypto asset mining operations in an environmentally conscious manner.
Pennsylvania has deemed the reclamation of coal refuse sites as an environmental priority, and since the early 1990s an unofficial public-private-relationship has developed between the coal refuse reclamation to energy industry and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 2016, Pennsylvania adopted a performance based tax credit targeting coal refuse removal by alternative electricity generation facilities utilizing CFB technology, such as the Scrubgrass Plant, the Panther Creek Plant and the Third Plant. To qualify for the tax credit, 75% of the fuel used by these facilities must be qualified coal refuse, plant design must include CFB technology, utilizing limestone injection and a fabric filter for particulate emissions
control, ash produced by the facilities must be put to beneficial use as defined by PADEP, and, finally, at least 50% of that beneficial use ash must be used to reclaim coal mining affected sites.
Due to the environmental benefit produced by our facilities, we also qualify for Tier II RECs in Pennsylvania. These RECs are currently valued at approximately $11.00 per MWh. Particularly challenging and often remote piles also require partnerships with federal, state, and local environmental groups in order to accomplish the remediation and reclamation goals of a project. These projects include the use of federal grants combined with millions of private dollars invested by the coal refuse reclamation to energy project companies. Our coal refuse reclamation to energy facility has frequently partnered with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, BAMR and local environmental groups to remediate these piles. The Scrubgrass Plant has partnered with state agencies since the mid-1990s to identify and reclaim waste sites and have removed over 16 million tons from the environment since start of operations.
While crypto asset mining continues to consume a massive amount of energy worldwide, often generated from traditional and more environmentally harmful sources, we are able to conduct our activities in a manner that benefits both the environment and our profitability.
As of March 24, 2022, we operate approximately 20,500 miners with hash rate of approximately 1.9 EH/s. Our current fleet comprises Bitmain, MicroBT, Canaan and MinerVa miners. These miners have hash rate capacity between 13 terahash per second ("TH/s") and 100 TH/s per miner and power consumption between approximately 1,300 watts and 3,500 watts per miner. We manage our fleet of miners through a combination of internal employees and outside contractors.
Through our innovative strategic initiatives and existing commercial relationships, we will continue to efficiently secure high-quality equipment necessary to maximize our operational advantages. Using our access to and control of environmentally-beneficial and low-cost power as leverage, our focus is on sourcing the latest crypto asset mining technology and engaging in transactions to align our interests with those of other key industry stakeholders, including equipment manufacturers and high-performance computing infrastructure managers. We are actively adding to our existing fleet of approximately 10,000 miners currently deployed at the Scrubgrass Plant as of March 24, 2022, with a hash rate capacity of approximately 0.9 EH/s, through the execution of definitive agreements. Based on our power capacity at the Scrubgrass Plant, we ultimately expect to house approximately 20,000 miners in our datacenters at the Scrubgrass Plant. As of March 24, 2022, we have a fleet of approximately 10,500 miners currently deployed at the Panther Creek Plant, and based on our power capacity at the Panther Creek Plant, we ultimately expect to house approximately 20,000 miners at the Panther Creek Plant. We plan to house our remaining anticipated miners at the Third Plant and one or more additional power generation asset(s). The acquisition of the Third Plant is subject to due diligence and the negotiation of a definitive agreement, and there is no assurance that the acquisition will be completed. Our location in the cooler Northeastern United States and access to cheap power allow us to cool our miners at lower cost than if we were located in warmer regions and also affords us the flexibility to buy power off the grid when the cost of such power is cheaper than our cost of production and sell power to the grid when prices are opportunistic or when called upon by the grid, resulting in our ability to maximize crypto asset mining operations through low variable costs and cost per MW. Our current focus is on mining Bitcoin, which we may convert to fiat currency to the extent necessary to fund our development.
Pursuant to the agreements that we have entered into to procure additional miners, we pre-paid significant portions of the purchase price for the new miners under each of the agreements, with the remainder of the payments due upon
confirmation of shipment or delivery of the miners. MinerVa substantially failed to deliver all of the miners under a purchase agreement we entered into with MinerVa dated April 2, 2021 (the "MinerVa Purchase Agreement") by the December 31, 2021 deadline. In December 2021, we extended the delivery deadline for the remaining MinerVa miners to April 2022, and in March 2022, MinerVa missed another delivery deadline. While we continue to engage in discussions with MinerVa on the delivery of the remaining miners, we do not know when the remaining MinerVa miners will be delivered, if at all.
While our focus is currently on Bitcoin, we may utilize our miners for other crypto assets depending on market conditions, including the relative values of such other crypto assets, and other factors. We intend to operate with flexibility and a goal of maximizing value from our operations. To this end, our business strategy continues to be acquiring power generating assets that allow us to generate electricity at competitive rates in an environmentally beneficial fashion, securing miners with the latest technology to utilize such power generation capabilities, and re-investing proceeds from our crypto asset mining operations in acquiring additional power generating assets and miners.
Our operations are subject to stringent federal, state and local laws and regulations with regard to air and water quality, hazardous and solid waste management and disposal and other environmental matters. Numerous governmental entities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and analogous state agencies, have the power to enforce compliance with these laws and regulations and the permits issued under them, often requiring difficult and costly actions. The more significant of these existing environmental laws and regulations include the following U.S. legal standards, as amended from time to time:
• the CAA, which imposes standards that restrict the emission of air pollutants from many sources, imposes various pre-construction, operational, monitoring, permitting and reporting requirements, and that the EPA has relied upon as authority for adopting climate change regulatory initiatives relating to greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions;
• the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), which regulates discharges of pollutants from facilities to state and federal waters and establishes the extent to which waterways are subject to federal jurisdiction and rulemaking as protected waters of the United States;
• the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”), which imposes liability on generators, transporters, disposers and arrangers of hazardous substances at sites where hazardous substance releases have occurred or are threatening to occur;
• the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), which governs the generation, treatment, storage, transport and disposal of hazardous and nonhazardous solid waste, classifies coal combustion residuals (“CCRs”) as nonhazardous wastes, and establishes standards for landfill and surface impoundment placement, design, operation and closure, groundwater monitoring, corrective action, and post-closure care;
• the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to evaluate major agency actions (including their permitting and licensing decisions for siting approvals and other matters) having the potential to impact the environment and that may require the preparation of environmental assessments and more detailed environmental impact statements that may be made available for public review and comment; and
• the Toxic Substances Control Act, which gives EPA the authority to require reporting, recordkeeping and testing requirements, and to place restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures, including polychlorinated biphenyls.
Additionally, we are subject to state laws and regulations, including State Implementation Plans (“SIPs”), as well as local ordinances where we operate, that also have similar environmental laws and regulations governing many of these same types of activities. Under these federal and state legal requirements, owners or operators of air emission sources are
responsible for obtaining permits and for annual compliance and reporting tasks. Any failure by us to comply with these federal or state laws, regulations and regulatory initiatives or controls may result in the assessment of sanctions, including administrative, civil, and criminal penalties; the imposition of investigatory, remedial, and corrective action obligations or the incurrence of capital expenditures; the occurrence of restrictions, delays or cancellations in the permitting, development or expansion of projects; and the issuance of injunctions restricting or prohibiting some or all of our activities in a particular area. Historically, our environmental compliance costs have not had a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations; however, there can be no assurance that such costs will not be material in the future.
Coal refuse is a non-renewable fossil fuel constituting a Tier II Alternative Energy Source under Pennsylvania law, the combustion of which results in air emissions, including CO2, NOx, sulfur dioxides and particulate matter, which emissions are subject to regulation as pollutants under the CAA and analogous state law. Additionally, improper management of coal residues following the combustion of coal refuse may result in contamination of soils, surface water and groundwater, which contamination is regulated under the federal RCRA, the CWA, and analogous state laws. Nonetheless, the coal refuse targeted for combustion by us is from existing legacy coal refuse piles, and the refuse’s conversion into a power source as well as the subsequent reclamation of the refuse pile areas constitute environmentally beneficial aspects of our power generation facility. As the coal refuse is not a renewable source, the sustainability of such refuse in our power generation facility is dependent upon its continued existence and availability for economic transport from coal refuse piles in the state; moreover, acknowledging that combustion of coal refuse results in offsetting adverse impacts to the environment, our continued use of such refuse is dependent upon its continued inclusion as a Tier II Alternative Energy Source.
Over time, the trend in environmental laws and regulations is typically to place more restrictions and limitations on activities that may adversely affect the environment. Examples of environmental laws or regulatory initiatives that impact our ability to operate through the firing of coal refuse include the following:
Firing of Coal Refuse
The EPA published a final rule in April 2020 establishing a new subcategory in the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (“MATS”) applicable to a narrow set of power generation facilities that fire certain types of coal refuse found in the locality of inactive or abandoned mining operations, usually as tailings piles or spoil tips. The subcategory specifically applies to a limited set of existing electric utility steam generating units in Pennsylvania and West Virginia firing eastern bituminous coal refuse, which includes the Scrubgrass and Panther Creek Plants, and is only for emissions of acid gas hazardous air pollutants (“HAPs”). Without the continued existence of this subcategory under MATS, it may prove challenging for one or more of those power generation facilities covered under this subcategory to continue to operate in an economic manner. If the EPA were to reconsider the continued existence of the new subcategory, or if Pennsylvania, under applicable state law, were to implement more rigid standards in the future that limited the utility of this MATS subcategory, we and the other power generation facility operators covered under the current new subcategory could experience increased costs of complying with applicable requirements that could have material adverse impacts to our business and results of operations.
Coal Combustion Residuals
Pursuant to a 2015 EPA-published final rule regulating the disposal of CCR from electric utilities, CCR is classified as “nonhazardous waste” and allowed for beneficial use, with some restrictions. The regulation establishes standards in respect of design, structural integrity, assessment criteria, monitoring protection and remedial procedures for new and existing landfills and surface impoundments receiving CCR as well as existing surface impoundments located at stations generating electricity (regardless of fuel source), which were no longer receiving CCR but contain liquids as of the
effective date of the rule. This final rule was amended in 2018 (referred to as “Phase 1, Part 1”) in regards to certain closure deadlines and groundwater protection standards but left unchanged the primary requirements for groundwater monitoring, corrective action, inspections and maintenance, and closure. The Phase I, Part 1 rule has been the subject of litigation by environmental groups, resulting in remand of the rule to EPA without vacatur, and pursuant to which EPA has issued rulemakings that, among other things, established an April 11, 2021 deadline to cease placement of CCR and non-CCR waste streams into unlined ash basins and initiate closure, and established procedures to allow facilities to request approval to operate an existing CCR surface impoundment with an alternate liner. A future rulemaking is expected by EPA to address legacy impoundments, CCR landfills and surface impoundments will also continue to be regulated by the states, including Pennsylvania.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”)
Under the CAA, the EPA has set NAAQS for six principal pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment, including ground-level ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, some of which may result from coal combustion. Each state must develop a plan to bring nonattainment areas for specific pollutants into compliance with the NAAQS, which may include imposing operating limits on individual plants. The EPA is required to review NAAQS at five-year intervals. For example, in 2015, the EPA issued a final rule under the CAA, making the NAAQS for ground-level ozone more stringent. Since that time, the EPA has issued area designations with respect to ground-level ozone and final requirements that apply to state, local, and tribal air agencies for implementing the 2015 NAAQS for ground-level ozone. However, in late 2020, the EPA under the Trump administration published notice of a final action that, upon conducting a periodic review of the ozone standard in accord with CAA requirements, elected to retain the 2015 ozone NAAQS without revision on a going-forward basis. This December 2020 final action is subject to legal challenge and the Biden administration has announced plans to reconsider the December 2020 final action in favor of a more stringent ground-level ozone NAAQS. State implementation of any revised, more stringent NAAQS could, among other things, result in modification of SIPs to detail how a state will attain or maintain its attainment status, which modification may require reductions of emissions from our power generation facility to reach attainment status for ground-level ozone, fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide or sulfur dioxide, result in longer permitting timeline, and cause us to incur compliance costs that could be material.
The Acid Rain Program
The CAA includes a cap-and-trade emission reduction program for sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants and requirements for power plants to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions through the use of available combustion controls, collectively called the Acid Rain Program. Historically, our compliance costs with respect to this program have not had a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations; however, there can be no assurance that such costs will not be material in the future.
Cross-State Air Pollution
The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (“CSAPR”) requires 28 states in the eastern half of the United States, including Pennsylvania, to reduce power plant emissions that cross state lines and contribute to ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution in other states. A cap and trade system is used to reduce the target pollutants—sulfur dioxide and NOx. Our operations are subject to the CSAPR and comply through operation of existing controls and purchases of allowances on the open market, as needed. Beginning in 2016, 22 states, including Pennsylvania, have been the subject of EPA final rulemaking and associated legal actions focused primarily on federal implementation plans that both updated existing CSAPR nitrogen oxide ozone season emission budgets for electric generating units within those states and implemented those budgets through modifications to the CSAPR nitrogen oxide ozone season allowance trading program. Affected
facilities began to receive fewer ozone season nitric oxide allowances in 2017, resulting in the need to purchase additional allowances. More recently, in March 2021, the agency issued a final rule in which the agency found that the projected 2021 ozone season NOx emissions for 12 of those states (including Pennsylvania) significantly contribute to downwind states’ nonattainment or maintenance problems for the 2008 ozone NAAQS and therefore created an additional geographic group and ozone season trading program for those 12 states (referred to as Group 3) that will be covered by a new CSAPR NOX Group 3 emissions budget, which Group 3 emissions budget is expected to result in fewer ozone season nitrogen allowances than previously allowed. The electric generating units covered by the federal implementation plans and subject to the Group 3 emissions budget are fossil-fired electric generating units with greater than 25 MW capacity. While our CSAPR compliance costs to date have been immaterial, the future availability of and cost to purchase allowances to meet the emission reduction requirements is uncertain at this time, but it could be material if our facility will need to purchase additional allowances based on reduced allocations.
The EPA’s “Regional Haze Rule” is intended to reduce haze and protect visibility in Class I federal areas, such as National Parks and wilderness areas, and sets guidelines for determining the best available retrofit technology (“BART”) at affected plants and how to demonstrate “reasonable progress” toward attaining natural visibility conditions by the end of 2064. The Regional Haze Rule requires states to consider five factors when establishing BART for sources, including the availability of emission controls, the cost of the controls, and the effect of reducing emission on visibility in Class I areas. The Rule requires compliance within five years after the EPA approves the relevant SIP or issues a federal implementation plan, although individual states may impose more stringent compliance schedules. States, including Pennsylvania, were obligated to submit plans in mid-2021 for the second implementation period (covering years 2018 through 2028) for Regional Haze in Class I areas and those plans are subject to EPA review and approval. States may need to require additional emissions controls for visibility impairing pollutants, including on BART sources, during the second implementation period. We currently cannot predict the impact of this second implementation period, if any, on our operations.
In the United States, no comprehensive climate change legislation has been implemented at the federal level but President Biden has pursued executive actions, is expected to pursue additional executive actions, and may pursue new climate change legislation or other regulatory initiatives to promote his regulatory agenda and limit GHG emissions. Moreover, since the U.S. Supreme Court finding that GHG emissions constitute a pollutant under the CAA, the EPA adopted rules that, among other things, regulate GHG emissions from certain stationary sources, including a preconstruction permitting program for certain new construction or major modifications that may trigger more stringent GHG requirements upon modification of such sources, the costs of which may be material. Additionally, in 2015, the EPA issued a final rule establishing new source performance standards (“NSPS”) for carbon dioxide emissions from newly constructed coal-fueled electric generating plants, which reflects the partial capture and storage of those emissions from the plants. The EPA also promulgated NSPS applicable to modified and reconstructed electric generating units, which will serve as a floor for future stringent standard determinations for such units. The NSPS could have an impact on our operations to the extent we plan to construct and/or modify or reconstruct electric generating units. In December 2018, the EPA published proposed revisions to the final NSPS for new, modified, and reconstructed coal-fired electric utility steam generating units proposing that the best system of emissions reduction for these units is highly efficient generation that would be equivalent to supercritical steam conditions for larger units and sub-critical steam conditions for smaller units, and not partial carbon capture and sequestration. Challenges to the GHG NSPS are being held in abeyance at this time.
More recently, in July 2019, the EPA adopted the final Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Electric Utility Generating Units, known as the Affordable Clean Energy (“ACE”) Rule. The 2019 ACE Rule established carbon dioxide emission rules for existing power plants under CAA Section 111(d) and replaced the EPA’s more burdensome 2015 Clean Power Plan Rule. In accordance with the ACE Rule, the EPA determined that heat rate improvement measures are the best system of emissions reductions for existing coal-fired electric generating units. However, in January 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated and remanded to the EPA the ACE Rule. It is possible that the Biden administration could initiate further regulatory actions on power plant GHG emissions, which action could result in the imposition of more stringent and costly actions on power plant operators.
At the international level, there exists the United Nations-sponsored “Paris Agreement,” which is a non-binding agreement for nations to limit their greenhouse gas emissions through individually-determined reduction goals every five years after 2020. While the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration on November 7, 2020, President Biden issued an executive order recommitting the United States to the Paris Agreement, effective February 19, 2021. In accordance with the United States’ re-entry into the Paris Agreement, in April 2021, President Biden announced a new, more rigorous nationally determined emissions reduction level of 50%-52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net GHG emissions by 2030. With the United States recommitting to the Paris Agreement, executive orders may be issued or federal legislation or regulatory initiatives may be adopted to achieve the agreement’s goals, which could require us to incur increased, potentially significant, costs to comply with such requirements.
Litigation risks may also increase, as it is possible that states, municipalities and other parties, including proponents of renewable energy that are opposed to the burning of fossil fuels, including coal, seek to further restrict GHG emissions regardless of federal legislative and regulatory initiatives on the matter. Moreover, financial risks could increase, as stockholders and bondholders currently invested in fossil fuel energy companies concerned about the potential effects of climate change may elect in the future to shift some or all of their investments into non-fossil fuel energy related sectors. Institutional investors who provide financing to fossil fuel energy companies also have become more attentive to sustainability issues and some of them may elect not to provide funding for fossil fuel energy companies. Limitation of investments in and financings for fossil fuel energy could result in reduced access to capital, higher costs of capital and the restriction, delay, or cancellation of development and production activities.
While we cannot predict the outcome of legislative or regulatory initiatives related to climate change, we anticipate that initiatives to reduce GHG emissions will continue to develop. Federal, state and international GHG and climate change initiatives, associated regulations or other voluntary commitments to reduce GHG emissions could adversely affect coal production and consumption, require the installation of emissions control technologies, increase the expense associated with the purchase of emissions reduction credits to comply with future emissions reduction programs, the expense of any future carbon tax, or limitations on the combustion of fossil fuels by a future national clean energy standard. Additionally, litigation, and financial risks may result in restrictions or cancellations in development and expansion activities or increases in the cost of consuming hydrocarbons and thereby reducing demand for fossil fuels, including coal. Moreover, the increased competitiveness of alternative energy sources (such as Tier I Alternative Energy Sources, including wind and solar photovoltaic) that do not generally have the adverse impact to the environment that is associated with the combustion of coal and also are not subject to as much regulatory scrutiny as are facilities that combust fossil fuels. Also, there is the possibility that financial institutions will be required to adopt policies that limit funding for fossil fuel energy companies as President Biden recently signed an executive order calling for the development of a climate finance plan and federal agencies under the Biden administration are pursuing activities to address climate-related risks in the financial sector. Finally, increasing concentrations of GHG in the Earth’s atmosphere may produce climate changes that have significant physical effects, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts, floods, rising sea levels and other climatic
vents. Consequently, one or more of these developments could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
We are not dependent on any one customer or group of customers, and no individual customer, or together with its affiliates, contributed on an aggregate basis 10% or more to our revenues. However, our business with Direct Energy Business Marketing LLC amounted to approximately 100% of our energy operations segment revenues for the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020.
We conduct business on properties that have been used for coal-fired power generation facility operations for many years. The properties we own or operate were acquired from third parties whose actions with respect to the management and disposal or release of coal, wastes or other hazardous substances at or from such properties were not under our control prior to acquiring them. Additionally, we are responsible under applicable federal and state rules for the disposal of CCRs in operating landfills and surface impoundments and closure of such units associated with our operations, including location restrictions, design and operating criteria, groundwater monitoring, corrective action and closure requirements, and post-closure care. Under environmental laws and regulations such as CERCLA and the RCRA or analogous state laws, we could incur strict joint and several liability due to damages to natural resources or for remediating CCR, coal, wastes or other hazardous substances disposed of or released, including by prior owners or operators. Moreover, an accidental release of materials into the environment during the course of our operations may cause us to incur significant costs and liabilities. We also could incur costs related to the clean-up of third-party sites to which we sent regulated substances for disposal and for damages to natural resources or other claims related to releases of regulated substances at or from such third-party sites.
Cooling Water Intake
Our operations are subject to a variety of rules governing water use and discharge including, in particular, the CWA Section 316(b) rule issued by the EPA that seeks to protect fish and other aquatic organisms by requiring existing steam electric generating facilities to utilize the best technology available (“BTA”) for cooling water intake structures. In 2014, the EPA published its final standards based on CWA Section 316(b) that require certain subject facilities to choose among seven BTA options to reduce fish impingement. In addition, certain facilities must conduct studies to assist permitting authorities to determine whether and what site-specific controls, if any, are required to reduce entrainment of aquatic organisms. It is possible that this decision-making process, which includes permitting and public input, could result in the need to install closed-cycle cooling systems (closed-cycle cooling towers), or other technology. Finally, the standards require that new units added to an existing facility to increase generation capacity are required to reduce both impingement and entrainment.
Coal-Fired Power Plant Wastewater Discharges
Current EPA regulations issued in 2020 limit the obligation of many coal-fired power plants to mitigate the discharge of lead, mercury and selenium, among other constituents, into surface waters. However, in July 2021, the EPA under the Biden administration announced plans to propose by 2022 a rulemaking that would impose more stringent standards on coal-fired power plants using steam to generate electricity. EPA estimates that the current timeline for issuance of a final rule will be by 2024, at the latest. Implementation of new rules imposing more stringent wastewater discharge limits for coal-fired power plants, including ours, could result in our incurring increased compliance costs.
We use specific hardware and software for our crypto asset mining operation. In certain cases, source code and other software assets may be subject to an open source license, as much technology development underway in this sector is open source. For these works, we intend to adhere to the terms of any license agreements that may be in place.
We do not currently own any patents in connection with our existing and planned blockchain and crypto asset related operations. In the future we may pursue patents in connection our blockchain and crypto assets, but do not have immediate plans to do so. We do expect to rely upon trade secrets, trademarks, service marks, trade names, copyrights and other intellectual property rights and expect to license the use of intellectual property rights owned and controlled by others. In addition, we have developed and may further develop certain proprietary software applications for purposes of our crypto asset mining operations.
In crypto asset mining, companies, individuals and groups generate units of crypto assets through mining. Miners can range from individuals to professional mining operations with dedicated datacenters. Miners may organize themselves in mining pools. The Company competes or may in the future compete with other companies that focus all or a portion of their activities on owning or operating crypto asset exchanges, developing programming for the blockchain, and mining activities. At present, the information concerning the activities of these enterprises is not readily available as the vast majority of the participants in this sector do not publish information publicly or the information may be unreliable. Published sources of information include “bitcoin.org” and “blockchain.info”; however, the reliability of that information and its continued availability cannot be assured.
Several public companies (traded in the U.S. and internationally), such as the following, may be considered to compete with us, although we believe there is no company, including the following, which engages in the same scope of activities with a focus on environmentally-beneficial operations as we do.
•Bitcoin Investment Trust
•Blockchain Industries, Inc. (formerly Omni Global Technologies, Inc.)
•Bitfarms Technologies Ltd. (formerly Blockchain Mining Ltd)
•DMG Blockchain Solutions Inc.
•Digihost International, Inc.
•Hive Blockchain Technologies Inc.
•Hut 8 Mining Corp.
•HashChain Technology, Inc.
•MGT Capital Investments, Inc.
•DPW Holdings, Inc.
•Layer1 Technologies, LLC
•Northern Data AG
•Marathon Patent Corporation
While there is limited available information regarding our non-public competitors, we believe that our recent acquisition and deployment of miners (as discussed further above) positions us well among the publicly traded companies involved in the crypto asset mining industry. The crypto asset industry is a highly competitive and evolving industry and new competitors and/or emerging technologies could enter the market and affect our competitiveness in the future.
Human Capital Resources
As of March 24, 2022, we had 16 employees, all of which are full-time. On November 2, 2021, Stronghold Digital Mining Holdings, LLC (“Stronghold LLC”) entered into the Operations, Maintenance and Ancillary Services Agreement (the “Omnibus Services Agreement”) with Olympus Stronghold Services, LLC (“Olympus Stronghold Services”), whereby Olympus Stronghold Services will employ certain personnel to operate the Panther Creek Plant and the Scrubgrass Plant. As of March 24, 2022, the Panther Creek Plant and the Scrubgrass Plant employed a cumulative amount of 126 employees, all of which are full-time. We are not a party to any collective bargaining agreements.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Summary Risk Factors
Investing in our Class A common stock involves risks. You should carefully read the section of this Form 10-K entitled “Risk Factors” beginning on page 18 for an explanation of these risks before investing in our Class A common stock. In particular, the following considerations may offset our competitive strengths or have a negative effect on our strategy or operating activities, which could cause a decrease in the price of our Class A common stock and a loss of all or part of your investment.
•We have a hybrid business model which is highly dependent on the price of Bitcoin. A decline in the price of Bitcoin could result in significant losses.
•If we fail to effectively manage our growth or to raise additional capital needed to grow our business, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be harmed.
•We have an evolving business model which is subject to various uncertainties.
•The loss of any of our management team could adversely affect our business.
•We may be unable to successfully enter into definitive purchase agreements for or close on the additional plants or miners described herein, or any other potential acquisitions.
•We are dependent on third-party brokers and direct suppliers to source some of our miners.
•If we are unable to comply with the covenants or restrictions contained in our debt agreements, the lenders could declare all amounts outstanding under those agreements to be due and payable and foreclose on their collateral, which could materially adversely affect our financial condition and operations.
•Our existing operations and future development plans require substantial capital expenditures, and we will require additional financing to fund our operations. We may be unable to obtain additional financing.
•As a result of the depressed price of Bitcoin as compared to its historical high, the cryptocurrency industry has experienced increased credit pressures. These credit pressures could materially and adversely impact our liquidity.
•Some of our suppliers are delayed in delivering already paid for miners which is having a material adverse effect on our business.
•We may not be able to procure ordered and paid for miners on the schedules set forth in our definitive agreements due to circumstances beyond our control such as supply chain issues, manufacturing delays, force majeure events, changing global regulations, and supply shortages.
•If crypto assets are determined to be investment securities, we may inadvertently violate the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “Investment Company Act”), and incur large losses and potentially be required to register as an investment company.
•Regulatory changes or actions may alter the nature of an investment in us or restrict the use of Bitcoin in a manner that adversely affects our business, prospects or operations.
•The open-source structure of the certain crypto asset network protocol, including Bitcoin, means that the contributors to the protocol are generally not directly compensated for their contributions in maintaining and
developing the protocol. A failure to properly monitor and upgrade the protocol could damage that network and an investment in us.
•The further development and acceptance of crypto asset networks and other crypto assets are subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to evaluate.
•We may not be able to compete with other companies, some of whom have greater resources and experience.
•The development and acceptance of competing blockchain platforms or technologies may cause consumers to use alternative distributed ledgers or other alternatives.
•The loss or destruction of private keys required to access any crypto assets held in custody for our own account may be irreversible.
•The nature of our business requires the application of complex financial accounting rules, and there is limited guidance from accounting standard setting bodies. If financial accounting standards undergo significant changes, our operating results could be adversely affected.
•The Bitcoin reward for successfully uncovering a block will halve several times in the future and Bitcoin value may not adjust to compensate us for the reduction in the rewards we receive from our mining efforts.
•Our future success will depend upon the value of Bitcoin; the value of Bitcoin may be subject to pricing risk and has historically been subject to wide swings.
•Cryptocurrencies, including those maintained by or for us, may be exposed to cybersecurity threats and hacks.
•If the Bitcoin reward for solving blocks and transaction fees is not sufficiently high, we may not have an adequate incentive to continue mining and may cease mining operations.
•The limited rights of legal recourse against us, and our lack of insurance protection expose us and our stockholders to the risk of loss of our crypto assets for which no person is liable.
•Natural or man-made events may cause our power production to fall below our expectations.
•We may not be able to operate the power generation facility as planned.
•Land reclamation requirements may be burdensome and expensive.
•Changes in tax credits related to coal refuse power generation could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and future development efforts.
•Competition in power markets may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our assets.
•Because our power-generating reclamation facility is a member of PJM Interconnection (“PJM”), a regional transmission organization, we may be required to supply power to the grid at a time that is not optimal to our operations.
•Our business is subject to substantial energy regulation, and we are required to obtain, and to comply with, government permits and approvals.
•Our operations involving the combustion of coal refuse are subject to a number of risks arising out of the threat of climate change and environmental laws and regulations relating to emissions and management of coal residues following combustion, which could result in increased operating and capital costs for us and reduce the extent of our business activities.
•Operation of power generation facilities involves significant risks and hazards.
•We are a holding company whose sole material asset is our equity interests in Stronghold LLC; accordingly, we will be dependent upon distributions from Stronghold LLC to pay taxes, make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement and cover our corporate and other overhead expenses.
•We have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls.
•If we fail to remediate the material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting or experience any additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to develop or maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations.
•A small group of individuals own a significant amount of our voting stock, and their interests may conflict with those of our other stockholders.
•In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement ("TRA") may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, Stronghold Inc. realizes.
•Future sales of our Class A common stock in the public market could reduce our stock price, and any additional capital raised by us through the sale of equity or convertible securities may dilute your ownership in us.
•We may issue preferred stock whose terms could adversely affect the voting power or value of our Class A common stock.
Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently deem to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business operations. If any of the following risks were to actually occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. The headings provided in this Item 1A. are for convenience and reference purposes only and shall not affect or limit the extent or interpretation of the risk factors. See “Risk Factors” immediately following this summary for a more thorough discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties we face.
Risks Related to Our Business
We have a limited operating history, with operating losses as we have grown.
We have undergone a transformation of our business in recent years and began Bitcoin mining in May 2018. We have experienced recurring losses from operations in prior years. Our Bitcoin mining business is in its early stages, and Bitcoin and energy pricing and Bitcoin mining economics are volatile and subject to uncertainty. Our current strategy will continue to expose us to the numerous risks and volatility associated with the Bitcoin mining and power generation sectors, including fluctuating Bitcoin to U.S. Dollar prices, the costs of Bitcoin miners, the number of market participants mining Bitcoin, the availability of other power generation facilities to expand operations and regulatory changes.
We have a hybrid business model which is highly dependent on the price of Bitcoin. A decline in the price of Bitcoin could result in significant losses.
We have a hybrid business model. We are an independent power generation company that maintains the flexibility to both sell power to PJM, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or part of 13 states and the District of Columbia, at higher prices and draw on PJM at lower prices. During 2018 and 2019, we began providing Bitcoin mining services to third parties and also began operating our own Bitcoin mining equipment to generate Bitcoin, which we then exchange for U.S. Dollars. If the dollar value of Bitcoin decreases, we could incur future losses and these losses could be significant as we incur costs and expenses associated with recent investments and potential future acquisitions, as well as legal and administrative related expenses. We are closely monitoring our cash balances, cash needs and expense levels, but significant expense increases may not be offset by a corresponding increase in revenue or a significant decline in Bitcoin prices could significantly impact our financial performance. Our mining operations are costly and our expenses may increase in the future. This expense increase may not be offset by a corresponding increase in revenue. Our expenses may be greater than we anticipate, and our investments to make our business more efficient may not succeed and may outpace monetization efforts. Increases in our costs without a corresponding increase in our revenue would increase our losses and could seriously harm our business and financial performance.
If we fail to effectively manage our growth, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be harmed.
We are a development stage company with a small management team and are subject to the strains of ongoing development and growth, which will place significant demands on our management and our operational and financial infrastructure. Although we may not grow as we expect, if we fail to manage our growth effectively or to develop and expand our managerial, operational and financial resources and systems, our business and financial results would be materially harmed.
We may not be able to manage growth effectively, which could damage our reputation, limit our growth and negatively affect our operating results. Further, we cannot provide any assurance that we will successfully identify all emerging trends and growth opportunities in this business sector and we may lose out on those opportunities. Such circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations.
We have an evolving business model which is subject to various uncertainties.
We operate two coal refuse power generation facilities and crypto asset mining operations in Pennsylvania and are seeking to acquire additional power generation facilities in and around Pennsylvania. We also manufacture StrongBoxes, our proprietary modular data center containers that house our miners. As crypto assets and blockchain technologies become more widely available, we expect the services and products associated with them to evolve. Future regulations may require us to change our business in order to comply fully with federal and state laws regulating power generation, crypto asset (including Bitcoin) mining, or provision of Bitcoin and crypto asset mining services to third parties. In order to stay current with the industry, our business model may need to evolve as well. From time to time, we may modify or expand aspects of our business model relating to our strategy. We cannot offer any assurance that these or any other modifications will be successful or will not result in harm to our business.
Our loss of any of our management team or workforce, our inability to execute an effective succession plan, or our inability to attract and retain qualified personnel, could adversely affect our business.
Our success and future growth will depend to a significant degree on the skills and services of our management team, including Gregory A. Beard, William Spence, Ricardo Larroudé and Richard J. Shaffer. The loss of key members of our management team could inhibit our growth prospects. Additionally, we will need to continue to grow our management team in order to alleviate pressure on our existing team and in order to continue to develop our business and execute on our business plans. If our management team, including any new hires that we may make, fails to work together effectively and to execute our plans and strategies on a timely basis, our business could be harmed. Furthermore, if we fail to execute an effective contingency or succession plan with the loss of any member of management team, the loss of such management personnel may significantly disrupt our business.
Our future success also depends in large part on our ability to attract, retain and motivate key management and operating personnel. Following our initial public offering ("IPO"), and the closing of the Panther Creek Acquisition (as defined below), we entered into the Omnibus Services Agreement whereby an affiliate of Olympus Power, LLC (together with its affiliates, "Olympus") is responsible for employing certain personnel to operate the Panther Creek Plant and Scrubgrass Plant. If the Omnibus Services Agreement is terminated for any reason, we would be required to hire the personnel to operate these plants or find replacement personnel, and we may have difficulty finding replacement personnel to operate these plants if that becomes necessary.
Further, as we continue to develop and expand our operations, we may require personnel with different skills and experiences, and who have a sound understanding of our business and the Bitcoin industry. The market for highly qualified personnel in this industry is very competitive and we may be unable to attract such personnel. If we are unable to attract such personnel, our business could be harmed. William Spence, Co-Chairman of our Board, is a pancreatic cancer survivor and is currently in remission. Mr. Spence is continuing to fulfill his responsibilities as the Co-Chairman with no interruption. At this time, no organizational changes related to Mr. Spence’s health are planned or anticipated.
Our management team has limited experience managing a public company.
Members of our management team have limited experience serving as executive officers or directors of a public company and interacting with public company investors, and may not have experience complying with the increasingly complex laws pertaining to public companies. Our management team may not successfully or efficiently manage our transition to being a public company subject to significant regulatory oversight and reporting obligations under the federal securities laws as well as the continuous scrutiny of securities analysts and investors. These new obligations and constituents will require significant attention from our senior management and could divert their attention away from the day-to-day management of our business, which could adversely affect our business and financial performance.
We may be unable to successfully enter into definitive purchase agreements for or close on the additional plants or miners described herein, or any other potential acquisition, on the terms described or at all.
There is no assurance that we will enter into a definitive purchase agreement for the additional plants or miners described herein, or any other potential acquisition. We could determine through a market analysis, a review of historical and projected financial statements of the company or other due diligence that the target assets do not meet our investment standards. We also may be unable to come to an agreement. Additionally, there is no assurance that we will successfully close an acquisition once a purchase agreement has been signed, or that we will realize the expected benefits from any potential acquisition.
We have entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Olympus for the purchase of the Third Plant, a coal refuse plant with 112 MW of net electricity generation capacity located in Pennsylvania. The acquisition of the Third Plant is subject to further due diligence and negotiation of a definitive agreement, and there is no assurance we will enter into a definitive agreement with Olympus relating to such acquisition. Furthermore, should we enter into a definitive agreement with Olympus for the acquisition of the Third Plant, we anticipate that the consummation of any potential transaction will be subject to a number of conditions, and there can be no assurances that such conditions will be satisfied or waived or that the transaction will be completed in a timely manner or at all. While we are considering strategic acquisitions of additional power assets, we have not identified, and there are no assurances that we will be able to identify or acquire, additional power assets. If we do not acquire additional power assets, certain of the miners that we have purchased to date may not be utilized, and we may not achieve our anticipated hash rates.
We are dependent on third-party brokers and direct suppliers to source some of our miners, and failure to properly manage these relationships, or the failure of these brokers or suppliers to perform as expected, could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations.
We currently rely on third-party brokers and direct suppliers to source some of our miners. We have no assurance that business interruptions will not occur as a result of the failure or delay by these brokers or suppliers to perform as expected, including the failure to locate acceptable or sufficient miners for our purchase, even if we have paid for the miners partially or in full at the time of order or at any point prior to delivery. One of our suppliers has failed to deliver contractually obligated miners, which has resulted in a significantly lower than expected hash rate and has had a material adverse effect on our business as of the year end and is expected to continue into 2022. Many of the competitors in our industry have also been purchasing mining equipment at scale, which has caused a world-wide shortage of mining equipment and extended the corresponding delivery schedules for new miner purchases. We cannot ensure that our brokers or suppliers will continue to perform services to our satisfaction or on commercially reasonable terms. The recent increased demand for miners has also limited the supply of miners that brokers may source for us. Our brokers or suppliers may also decline our orders to fulfill those of our competitors, putting us at competitive harm. There are no assurances that any miner manufacturers will be able to keep pace with the surge in demand for mining equipment. Further, resource constraints or regulatory actions could also impact our ability to obtain and receive miners. For example, China has been experiencing power shortages, and certain of our miner suppliers have been impacted by related intermittent power outages. Additionally, certain companies, including Bitmain and MinerVa, may move their production of miners out of China and into other countries following the September 2021 blanket ban on crypto mining and transactions by Chinese regulators. Such power outages and production relocations could result in cancellations or delays and may negatively impact our ability to receive mining equipment on a timely basis or at all. Additional and escalating wars, strife and unrest around the globe could also negatively impact our business and the ability of our suppliers to deliver miners. If our brokers or suppliers are not able to provide the agreed services at the level of quality and quantity we require or become unable to handle the volume of miners we seek, we may not be able to replace such brokers or suppliers in a timely manner. Any delays, interruption or increased costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations.
We cannot predict the outcome of the legal proceedings with respect to our current and past business activities. An adverse determination could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are involved in legal proceedings, claims and litigation arising out of our business operations, including disputes with suppliers of raw materials to our power generation facility, with truckers on whom we rely for the delivery of coal refuse and other raw materials, labor and employment disputes, and other commercial disputes. We cannot predict the ultimate outcome of these matters, nor can we reasonably estimate the costs or liabilities that could potentially result from a negative outcome in each case.
COVID-19 or any pandemic, epidemic or outbreak of an infectious disease in the United States or elsewhere may adversely affect our business.
The COVID-19 virus has had unpredictable and unprecedented impacts in the United States and around the world. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a “pandemic,” or a worldwide spread of a new disease. Many countries around the world have imposed quarantines and restrictions on travel and mass gatherings to slow the spread of the virus. During 2020 and 2021, in the United States, federal, state and local governments enacted restrictions on travel, gatherings, and workplaces, with exceptions made for essential workers and businesses. We are still assessing the effect on our business from COVID-19 and any actions implemented by the federal, state and local governments. We may experience disruptions to our business operations resulting from quarantines, self-isolations, or other movement and restrictions on the ability of our employees to perform their jobs. If we are unable to effectively service our miners, our ability to mine Bitcoin will be adversely affected as miners go offline, which would have an adverse effect on our business and the results of our operations.
China has limited the shipment of certain products in and out of its borders, which could negatively impact our ability to receive mining equipment from China-based suppliers. Third-party manufacturers, suppliers, sub-contractors and customers have been and may continue to be disrupted by worker absenteeism, quarantines, restrictions on employees’ ability to work, office and factory closures, disruptions to ports and other shipping infrastructure, border closures, or other travel or health-related restrictions. Depending on the magnitude of such effects on our supply chain, shipments of parts for our existing miners, as well as any new miners we purchase, may be delayed. As our miners require repair or become obsolete and require replacement, our ability to obtain adequate replacements or repair parts from their manufacturer may therefore be hampered. Supply chain disruptions could therefore negatively impact our operations. If not resolved quickly, the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Risks Related to Our Indebtedness and Liquidity
We will require additional financings to fund our operations, which we may be unable to obtain
We may continue to operate at negative cash flow from operations throughout the remainder of 2022. We expect to need to raise additional capital to continue to maintain or expand our operations, pursue our growth strategies, fund needed capital expenditures, and to respond to competitive pressures or working capital requirements. We may not be able to obtain additional debt or equity financing or sell assets on favorable terms, if at all, which could impair our growth and adversely affect our existing operations. If we raise additional equity financing, our stockholders may experience significant dilution of their ownership interests, and the per share value of our Class A common stock could decline. Furthermore, the holders of any debt we incur would have priority over the holders of our Class A common stock in order of payment preference. We may be required to accept terms that restrict our ability to incur additional indebtedness or require us to maintain specified liquidity or other financial ratios or other terms that may not be in the best interests of our stockholders. The failure to obtain additional debt or equity financing or sell assets on satisfactory terms could materially and adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and business plans.
Our substantial indebtedness could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition and prevent us from fulfilling our financial obligations.
As of December 31, 2021 and March 28, 2022, we had consolidated indebtedness of $68.5 million and $117.8 million, respectively. Our outstanding indebtedness could have important consequences such as:
•limiting our ability to obtain additional financing to fund growth, such as mergers and acquisitions; working capital; capital expenditures; debt service requirements; future asset and power-generation facility purchases; or other cash requirements, either on more favorable terms or at all;
•requiring much of our cash flow to be dedicated to interest or debt repayment obligations and making it unavailable for other purposes;
•causing us to need to sell assets or properties at inopportune times;
•exposing us to the risk of increased interest costs if the underlying interest rates rise on our variable rate debt;
•limiting our ability to invest operating cash flow in our business (including to obtain new assets and power-generation facilities or make capital expenditures) due to debt service requirements;
•limiting our ability to compete effectively with companies that are not as leveraged and that may be better positioned to withstand economic downturns, operational challenges and fluctuations in the price of cryptocurrency;
•limiting our ability to acquire new assets and power-generation facilities needed to conduct operations; and
•limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, and increasing our vulnerability to, changes in our business, the industry in which we operate and general economic and market conditions.
We may incur substantially more debt in the future. If our indebtedness is further increased, the related risks that we now face, including those described above, would increase. In addition to the principal repayments on outstanding debt, we have other demands on our cash resources, including significant maintenance and other capital expenditures and operating expenses. Our ability to pay our debt depends upon our operating performance. If we do not have enough cash to satisfy our debt service obligations, we may be required to refinance all or part of our debt, restructure our debt, sell assets, limit certain capital expenditures, or reduce spending or we may be required to issue equity at prices that dilute our existing shareholders. Whether or not those kinds of actions are successful, we might seek protections of applicable bankruptcy laws. We may not be able to, at any given time, refinance our debt or sell assets and we may not be able to, at any given time, issue equity, in either case on acceptable terms or at all. Additionally, all of our indebtedness is senior to the existing common stock in our capital structure. As a result, if we were to seek certain restructuring transactions, either within or outside of Chapter 11, our creditors would experience better returns as compared to our equityholders. Any of these actions could have a material adverse effect on the value of our equity.
If we are unable to comply with the covenants or restrictions contained in our debt agreements, the lenders could declare all amounts outstanding under those agreements to be due and payable and foreclose on their collateral, which could materially adversely affect our financial condition and operations.
Our debt agreements include covenants that, among other things, restrict our ability to dispose of assets, incur additional indebtedness, pay dividends or make other restricted payments, create liens on assets, make investments, loans or advances, make acquisitions, engage in mergers or consolidations and engage in certain transactions with affiliates. These restrictions could limit our ability to plan for or react to market conditions or meet extraordinary capital needs or otherwise restrict corporate activities. In addition, substantially all of our borrowed money obligations are secured by certain of our assets.
A failure to comply with any restrictions or covenants in our debt agreements could have serious consequences to our financial condition or result in a default under those debt agreements and under other agreements containing cross-default provisions. A default would permit lenders to accelerate the maturity of the debt under these debt agreements and to foreclose upon collateral securing the debt. Furthermore, an event of default or an acceleration under one of our debt agreements could also cause a cross-default or cross-acceleration of another debt instrument or contractual obligation, which would adversely impact our liquidity. Moreover, certain of our debt agreements are collateralized by miners that have not yet been received, and because those agreements have events of default tied to the timing of delivery of such miners, and delays in the miner delivery could result in events of default or cross accelerations, or cause cross-default, under our debt agreements. Under these circumstances, we might not have sufficient funds or other resources to satisfy all of our obligations. We may not be granted waivers or other amendments to these debt agreements if for any reason we are unable to comply with these debt agreements, and we may not be able to refinance our debt on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
As a result of the depressed price of Bitcoin as compared to its historical high, the cryptocurrency industry has experienced increased credit pressures that could result in additional demands for credit support by third parties or decisions by banks, surety bond providers, investors or other companies to reduce or eliminate their exposure to Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry as a whole, including our company. These credit pressures could materially and adversely impact our liquidity.
Our business is heavily dependent on the spot price of Bitcoin. The prices of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, have experienced substantial volatility, meaning that high or low prices may be based on speculation and incomplete information, may be subject to rapidly changing investor sentiment, and may be influenced by factors such as technology, regulatory void or changes, fraudulent actors, manipulation, and media reporting. For example, the price of Bitcoin ranged from a low of approximately $30,000 to a high of approximately $68,000 during 2021, and has ranged from approximately $35,000 to approximately $47,000 year-to-date as of March 24, 2022.
Ongoing depressed cryptocurrency prices, including the recent decrease to the price of Bitcoin, have resulted in, and could result further in, increased credit pressures on the cryptocurrency industry. These credit pressures, have had a material impact on our business, include, for example, banks, investors and other companies reducing or eliminating their exposure to the cryptocurrency industry. While many of these pressures are directed to the cryptocurrency industry in general, we have had to amend our credit facility with WhiteHawk Finance LLC ("WhiteHawk") because of delays in the delivery of miners collateralizing the agreement..
Our existing operations and future development plans require substantial capital expenditures, which we may be unable to provide.
Our existing operations and future plans are dependent upon our acquisitions of additional assets and power-generations facilities, and maintenance of our current assets and facilities, which require substantial capital expenditures. We have experienced higher than-anticipated maintenance costs related to one of our plants, and we may continue to experience higher than-anticipated maintenance costs for any of our plants in the future. We also require capital for, among other purposes:
•equipment and the development of our mining operations, including acquiring miners and datacenter buildouts;
•maintenance and expansions of plants and equipment; and
•compliance with environmental laws and regulations.
To the extent that cash on hand and cash generated from operations are not sufficient to fund capital requirements, we will require proceeds from asset sales or additional debt or equity financing. However, the opportunity to sell assets or obtain additional debt or equity financing may not be available to us or, if available, may not be available on satisfactory terms. Additionally, our debt agreements may restrict our ability to obtain such financing. If we are unable to obtain additional capital, we may not be able to maintain or increase our existing hashing rates and we could be forced to reduce or delay capital expenditures or change our business strategy, sell assets or restructure or refinance our indebtedness, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business or financial condition.
Regulatory Related Risks
If we were deemed to be an investment company under the Investment Company Act, applicable restrictions could make it impractical for us to continue our business as contemplated and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Under Sections 3(a)(1)(A) and (C) of the Investment Company Act, a company generally will be deemed to be an “investment company” for purposes of the Investment Company Act if (i) it is, or holds itself out as being, engaged primarily, or proposes to engage primarily, in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities or (ii) it engages, or proposes to engage, in the business of investing, reinvesting, owning, holding or trading in securities and it owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of its total assets (exclusive of U.S. government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. We do not believe that we are an “investment company,” as such term is defined in either of those sections of the Investment Company Act.
As the sole managing member of Stronghold LLC, we control and operate Stronghold LLC. On that basis, we believe that our interest in Stronghold LLC is not an “investment security” as that term is used in the Investment Company Act. However, if we were to cease participation in the management of Stronghold LLC, our interest in Stronghold LLC could be deemed an “investment security” for purposes of the Investment Company Act. We and Stronghold LLC intend to conduct our operations so that we will not be deemed an investment company.
Additionally, we believe that we are not engaged in the business of investing, reinvesting, or trading in securities, and we do not hold ourselves out as being engaged in those activities. As a result of our investments and our crypto asset mining activities, it is possible that the investment securities we hold in the future could exceed 40% of our total assets, exclusive of cash items and, accordingly, we could determine that we have become an inadvertent investment company. To date the SEC staff have treated Bitcoin as a commodity, but it is possible that the SEC may deem Bitcoins and other crypto assets an investment security in the future, although we do not believe any of the Bitcoin we own, acquire or mine are securities. An inadvertent investment company can avoid being classified as an investment company if it can rely on one of the exclusions under the Investment Company Act. One such exclusion, Rule 3a-2 under the Investment Company Act, allows an inadvertent investment company a grace period of one year from the earlier of (a) the date on which an issuer owns securities and/or cash having a value exceeding 50% of the issuer’s total assets on either a consolidated or unconsolidated basis and (b) the date on which an issuer owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of such issuer’s total assets (exclusive of government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. As of December 31, 2021, we do not believe we are an inadvertent investment company. If we do become an inadvertent investment company in the future, we may take actions to cause the investment securities held by us to be less than 40% of our total assets, which may include acquiring assets with our cash and Bitcoin on hand or liquidating our investment securities or Bitcoin or seeking a no-action letter from the SEC if we are unable to acquire sufficient assets or liquidate sufficient investment securities in a timely manner. Liquidating our investment securities or Bitcoin could result in losses.
As the Rule 3a-2 exception is available to a company no more than once every three years, and assuming no other exclusion were available to us, we would have to keep within the 40% limit for at least three years after we cease being an inadvertent investment company. This may limit our ability to make certain investments or enter into joint ventures that could otherwise have a positive impact on our earnings. In any event, we do not intend to become an investment company engaged in the business of investing and trading securities.
Classification as an investment company under the Investment Company Act requires registration with the SEC. If an investment company fails to register, it would have to stop doing almost all business, and its contracts would become voidable. Registration is time consuming and restrictive and would require a restructuring of our operations, and we would be very constrained in the kind of business we could do as a registered investment company. Further, we would become subject to substantial regulation concerning management, operations, transactions with affiliated persons and portfolio composition, and would need to file reports under the Investment Company Act regime. The cost of such compliance would result in the Company incurring substantial additional expenses, and the failure to register if required would have a materially adverse impact to conduct our operations. Furthermore, our classification as an investment company could adversely affect our ability to engage in future combinations, acquisitions or other transactions on a tax-free basis.
We are subject to a highly-evolving regulatory landscape and any adverse changes to, or our failure to comply with, any laws and regulations could adversely affect our business, prospects or operations.
Our business is subject to extensive laws, rules, regulations, policies and legal and regulatory guidance, including those governing securities, commodities, crypto asset custody, exchange and transfer, data governance, data protection, cybersecurity and tax. Many of these legal and regulatory regimes were adopted prior to the advent of the Internet, mobile technologies, crypto assets and related technologies. As a result, they do not contemplate or address unique issues associated with the cryptoeconomy, are subject to significant uncertainty, and vary widely across U.S. federal, state and local and international jurisdictions. These legal and regulatory regimes, including the laws, rules and regulations thereunder, evolve frequently and may be modified, interpreted and applied in an inconsistent manner from one jurisdiction to another, and may conflict with one another. Moreover, the complexity and evolving nature of our business and the significant uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the cryptoeconomy requires us to exercise our judgement as to whether certain laws, rules and regulations apply to us, and it is possible that governmental bodies and regulators may disagree with our conclusions. To the extent we have not complied with such laws, rules and regulations, we could be subject to significant fines and other regulatory consequences, which could adversely affect our business, prospects or operations. As Bitcoin has grown in popularity and in market size, the Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Congress and certain U.S. agencies (e.g., the CFTC, SEC, FinCEN and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI")) have begun to examine the operations of the Bitcoin network, Bitcoin users and the Bitcoin exchange market. Regulatory developments and/or our business activities may require us to comply with certain regulatory regimes. For example, to the extent that our activities cause us to be deemed a money service business under the regulations promulgated by FinCEN under the authority of the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, we may be required to comply with FinCEN regulations, including those that would mandate us to implement certain anti-money laundering programs, make certain reports to FinCEN and maintain certain records.
Ongoing and future regulatory actions may impact our ability to continue to operate, and such actions could affect our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations.
Blockchain technology may expose us to specially designated nationals or blocked persons or cause us to violate provisions of law.
We are subject to the rules enforced by The Office of Financial Assets Control of the US Department of Treasury (“OFAC”), including regarding sanctions and requirements not to conduct business with persons named on its specially designated nationals list. However, because of the pseudonymous nature of blockchain transactions, we may inadvertently and without our knowledge engage in transactions with persons named on OFAC’s specially designated nationals list.
The cryptoeconomy is novel and has little to no access to policymakers or lobbying organizations, which may harm our ability to effectively react to proposed legislation and regulation of crypto assets or crypto asset platforms adverse to our business.
As crypto assets have grown in both popularity and market size, various U.S. federal, state, and local and foreign governmental organizations, consumer agencies and public advocacy groups have been examining the operations of crypto networks, users and platforms, with a focus on how crypto assets can be used to launder the proceeds of illegal activities, fund criminal or terrorist enterprises, and the safety and soundness of platforms and other service providers that hold crypto assets for users. Many of these entities have called for heightened regulatory oversight, and have issued consumer
advisories describing the risks posed by crypto assets to users and investors. For instance, in July 2019, then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated that he had “very serious concerns” about crypto assets. In recent months, members of Congress have made inquiries into the regulation of crypto assets, and Gary Gensler, Chair of the SEC, has made public statements regarding increased regulatory oversight of crypto assets. Outside the United States, several jurisdictions have banned so-called initial coin offerings, such as China and South Korea, while Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, have opined that token offerings may constitute securities offerings subject to local securities regulations. In July 2019, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority proposed rules to address harm to retail customers arising from the sale of derivatives and exchange-traded notes that reference certain types of crypto assets, contending that they are “ill-suited” to retail investors due to extreme volatility, valuation challenges and association with financial crimes. In May 2021, the Chinese government called for a crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading, and in September 2021, Chinese regulators instituted a blanket ban on all crypto mining and transactions, including overseas crypto exchange services taking place in China, effectively making all crypto-related activities illegal in China. In January of 2022, the Central Bank of Russia called for a ban on cryptocurrency activities ranging from mining to trading, and on March 8, 2022, President Biden announced an executive order on cryptocurrencies which seeks to establish a unified federal regulatory regime for currencies.
The crypto economy is novel and has little to no access to policymakers and lobbying organizations in many jurisdictions. Competitors from other, more established industries, including traditional financial services, may have greater access to lobbyists or governmental officials, and regulators that are concerned about the potential for crypto assets for illicit usage may effect statutory and regulatory changes with minimal or discounted inputs from the cryptoeconomy. As a result, new laws and regulations may be proposed and adopted in the United States and internationally, or existing laws and regulations may be interpreted in new ways, that harm the cryptoeconomy or crypto asset platforms, which could adversely impact our business.
Bitcoin’s status as a “security,” a “commodity” or a “financial instrument” in any relevant jurisdiction is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and if we are unable to properly characterize a crypto asset, we may be subject to regulatory scrutiny, investigations, fines, and other penalties, which may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
The SEC and its staff have taken the position that certain crypto assets fall within the definition of a “security” under the U.S. federal securities laws. To date, the SEC staff have treated Bitcoin as a commodity. The legal test for determining whether any given crypto asset is a security is a highly complex, fact-driven analysis that evolves over time, and the outcome is difficult to predict. The SEC generally does not provide advance guidance or confirmation on the status of any particular crypto asset as a security. Furthermore, the SEC’s views in this area have evolved over time and it is difficult to predict the direction or timing of any continuing evolution. It is also possible that a change in the governing administration or the appointment of new SEC commissioners could substantially impact the views of the SEC and its staff. Public statements by senior officials at the SEC indicate that the SEC does not intend to take the position that Bitcoin or Ether are securities (in their current form). Bitcoin and Ether are the only crypto assets as to which senior officials at the SEC have publicly expressed such a view. Moreover, such statements are not official policy statements by the SEC and reflect only the speakers’ views, which are not binding on the SEC or any other agency or court and cannot be generalized to any other crypto asset. With respect to all other crypto assets, there is currently no certainty under the applicable legal test that such assets are not securities, notwithstanding the conclusions we may draw based on our risk-based assessment regarding the likelihood that a particular crypto asset could be deemed a “security” under applicable laws. Similarly, though the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology published a framework for analyzing whether any given crypto asset is a security in April 2019, this framework is also not a rule, regulation or statement of the SEC and is not binding on the SEC.
Several foreign jurisdictions have taken a broad-based approach to classifying crypto assets as “securities,” while other foreign jurisdictions, such as Switzerland, Malta, and Singapore, have adopted a narrower approach. As a result, certain crypto assets may be deemed to be a “security” under the laws of some jurisdictions but not others. Various foreign jurisdictions may, in the future, adopt additional laws, regulations, or directives that affect the characterization of crypto assets as “securities.” If Bitcoin or any other supported crypto asset is deemed to be a security under any U.S. federal, state, or foreign jurisdiction, or in a proceeding in a court of law or otherwise, it may have adverse consequences for such supported crypto asset. For instance, all transactions in such supported crypto asset would have to be registered with the SEC or other foreign authority, or conducted in accordance with an exemption from registration, which could severely limit its liquidity, usability and transactability. Moreover, the networks on which such supported crypto assets are utilized may be required to be regulated as securities intermediaries, and subject to applicable rules, which could effectively render the network impracticable for its existing purposes. Further, it could draw negative publicity and a decline in the general
acceptance of the crypto asset. Also, it may make it difficult for such supported crypto asset to be traded, cleared, and custodied as compared to other crypto assets that are not considered to be securities.
Our interactions with a blockchain may expose us to SDN or blocked persons and new legislation or regulation could adversely impact our business or the market for cryptocurrencies.
The Office of Financial Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the U.S. Department of Treasury requires us to comply with its sanction program and not conduct business with persons named on its specially designated nationals (“SDN”) list. However, because of the pseudonymous nature of blockchain transactions we may inadvertently and without our knowledge engage in transactions with persons named on OFAC’s SDN list. Our policy prohibits any transactions with such SDN individuals, and while we have internal procedures in place, we may not be adequately capable of determining the ultimate identity of the individual with whom we transact with respect to selling cryptocurrency assets. Moreover, the use of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, as a potential means of avoiding federally-imposed sanctions, such as those imposed in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For example, on March 2, 2022, a group of United States Senators sent the Secretary of the United States Treasury Department a letter asking Secretary Yellen to investigate its ability to enforce such sanctions vis-à-vis Bitcoin, and on March 8, 2022, President Biden announced an executive order on cryptocurrencies which seeks to establish a unified federal regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies. We are unable to predict the nature or extent of new and proposed legislation and regulation affecting the cryptocurrency industry, or the potential impact of the use of cryptocurrencies by SDN or other blocked or sanctioned persons, which could have material adverse effects on our business and our industry more broadly. Further, we may be subject to investigation, administrative or court proceedings, and civil or criminal monetary fines and penalties as a result of any regulatory enforcement actions, all of which could harm our reputation and affect the value of our common stock.
Our business is subject to substantial energy regulation and may be adversely affected by legislative or regulatory changes, as well as liability under, or any future inability to comply with, existing or future energy regulations or requirements.
Our business is subject to extensive U.S. federal, state and local laws. Compliance with, or changes to, the requirements under these legal and regulatory regimes may cause us to incur significant additional costs or adversely impact our ability to compete on favorable terms with competitors. Failure to comply with such requirements could result in the shutdown of a non-complying facility, the imposition of liens, fines, and/or civil or criminal liability and/or costly litigations before the agencies and/or in state of federal court.
The regulatory environment has undergone significant changes in the last several years due to state and federal policies affecting wholesale competition and the creation of incentives for the addition of large amounts of new renewable generation and, in some cases, transmission. These changes are ongoing, and we cannot predict the future design of the wholesale power markets or the ultimate effect that the changing regulatory environment will have on our business. In addition, in some of these markets, interested parties have proposed material market design changes, including the elimination of a single clearing price mechanism, as well as proposals to reinstate the vertically-integrated monopoly model of utility ownership or to require divestiture by generating companies to reduce their market share. If competitive restructuring of the electric power markets is reversed, discontinued, delayed or materially altered, our business prospects and financial results could be negatively impacted. In addition, since 2010, there have been a number of reforms to the regulation of the derivatives markets, both in the United States and internationally. These regulations, and any further changes thereto, or adoption of additional regulations, including any regulations relating to position limits on futures and other derivatives or margin for derivatives, could negatively impact our ability to hedge its portfolio in an efficient, cost-effective manner by, among other things, potentially decreasing liquidity in the forward commodity and derivatives markets or limiting our ability to utilize non-cash collateral for derivatives transactions.
Our combustion of coal refuse is subject to environmental laws and regulations relating to emissions and management of coal residues following combustion that could increase our costs of doing business and adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our operations are subject to stringent federal, state and local laws and regulations governing air and water quality, hazardous and solid waste disposal and other environmental matters. Compliance with these requirements requires significant expenditures for the installation, maintenance and operation of pollution control equipment, monitoring systems and other equipment or facilities. Furthermore, there is increased focus by the current Biden administration in pursuing a clean energy plan in Congress that would seek to increase electric power generation from renewable sources such as wind, solar, nuclear and hydro energy in replacement of power from fossil fuel sources, including coal. Additionally, the Biden administration has stated it has a goal to achieve a carbon pollution-free electric power sector by 2035 and to put the United States on a path to a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050. See “Business – Environmental Matters” for more
discussion on these matters. Our obligation to comply with these new regulatory requirements limiting emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels is described in the “Business – Environmental Matters” could adversely impact our operations, increase our environmental compliance costs and potentially reduce the extent of our business, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our operations involving the combustion of coal refuse are subject to a number of risks arising out of the threat of climate change, which could result in increased operating and capital costs for us and reduce the extent of our business activities.
The threat of climate change continues to attract considerable attention in the United States and foreign countries and, as a result, our operations are subject to regulatory, political, litigation and financial risks associated with the use of fossil fuels, including coal refuse, and emission of GHGs). The Biden administration has already issued a series of executive orders and regulatory initiatives focused on climate change, including rejoining the Paris Agreement, pursuant to which the administration has announced a goal of halving U.S. GHG emissions by 2030. See “Business – Environmental Matters” for more discussion on the risks associated with attention to the threat of climate change and restriction of GHG emissions. New or amended legislation, executive actions, regulations or other regulatory initiatives pertaining to GHG emissions and climate change, as described in the "Business - Environmental Matters" section, could result in the imposition of more stringent standards on us with respect to our GHG emissions could result in increased compliance costs or costs of consuming fossil fuels, including coal refuse. Additionally, political, financial and litigation risks may result in us restricting, delaying or canceling the extent of our business activities, incurring liability for infrastructure damages as a result of climatic changes, or impairing the ability to continue to operate in an economic manner. Fuel conservation measures, alternative fuel requirements and increasing consumer demand for alternative energy sources (such as Pennsylvania’s Tier I Alternative Energy Sources, including solar photovoltaic energy, wind power, and low-impact hydropower) that do not generally have the adverse impact to the environment that is associated with the combustion of coal and also are not subject to as much regulatory scrutiny as are facilities that combust fossil fuels could also reduce demand for coal refuse power generation facility activities. The occurrence of one or more of these developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our cost of compliance with existing and new environmental laws relating to the combustion of coal refuse could have a material adverse effect on us.
We are subject to extensive environmental regulation by governmental authorities, including the EPA, and state environmental agencies and/or attorneys general. We may incur significant additional costs beyond those currently contemplated to comply with these regulatory requirements. If we fail to comply with these regulatory requirements, we could be forced to reduce or discontinue operations or become subject to administrative, civil or criminal liabilities and fines. Existing environmental regulations could be revised or reinterpreted, new laws and regulations could be adopted or become applicable to us or our facilities, and future changes in environmental laws and regulations could occur, including potential regulatory and enforcement developments related to air emissions, all of which could result in significant additional costs beyond those currently contemplated to comply with existing requirements. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on us.
The EPA has recently finalized or proposed several regulatory actions establishing new requirements for control of certain emissions from sources, including electricity generation facilities. In the future, the EPA may also propose and finalize additional regulatory actions that may adversely affect our existing generation facility or our ability to cost-effectively develop new generation facilities. There is no assurance that the currently installed emissions control equipment at our generation facility will satisfy the requirements under any future EPA or state environmental regulations. Future federal and/or state regulatory actions could require us to install significant additional control equipment, resulting in potentially material costs of compliance for our generation units, including capital expenditures, higher operating and fuel costs and potential production curtailments. These costs could have a material adverse effect on us.
We may not be able to obtain or maintain all required environmental regulatory approvals. If there is a delay in obtaining any required environmental regulatory approvals, if we fail to obtain, maintain or comply with any such approval or if an approval is retroactively disallowed or adversely modified, the operation of our generation facility could be stopped, disrupted, curtailed or modified or become subject to additional costs. Any such stoppage, disruption, curtailment, modification or additional costs could have a material adverse effect on us.
In addition, we may be responsible for any on-site liabilities associated with the environmental condition of facilities that we have acquired, leased, developed or sold, regardless of when the liabilities arose and whether they are now known or unknown. In connection with certain acquisitions and sales of assets, we may obtain, or be required to provide,
indemnification against certain environmental liabilities. Another party could, depending on the circumstances, assert an environmental claim against us or fail to meet its indemnification obligations to us.
We could be materially and adversely affected if current regulations are implemented or if new federal or state legislation or regulations are adopted to address global climate change, or if we are subject to lawsuits for alleged damage to persons or property resulting from greenhouse gas emissions.
There is attention and interest nationally and internationally about global climate change and how GHG emissions, such as CO2, contribute to global climate change. Over the last several years, the U.S. Congress and state and federal authorities have considered and debated several proposals intended to address climate change using different approaches, including a cap on carbon emissions with emitters allowed to trade unused emission allowances (cap-and-trade), a tax on carbon or GHG emissions, incentives for the development of low-carbon technology and federal renewable portfolio standards. A number of federal and state court cases have been filed in recent years asserting damage claims related to GHG emissions, and the results in those proceedings could establish adverse precedent that might apply to companies (including us) that produce GHG emissions. See “Business – Environmental Matters” for more discussion on the risks arising from the threat of climate change and restriction of GHG emissions. We could be materially and adversely affected if new federal and/or state legislation or regulations are adopted to address global climate change or if we are subject to lawsuits for alleged damage to persons or property resulting from GHG emissions.
The availability and cost of emission allowances due to the cost of coal refuse could adversely impact our costs of operations.
We are required to maintain, through either allocations or purchases, sufficient emission allowances for sulfur dioxide, CO2 and NOx to support our operations in the ordinary course of operating our power generation facilities. These allowances are used to meet the obligations imposed on us by various applicable environmental laws. If our operational needs require more than our allocated allowances, we may be forced to purchase such allowances on the open market, which could be costly. If we are unable to maintain sufficient emission allowances to match our operational needs, we may have to curtail our operations so as not to exceed our available emission allowances or install costly new emission controls. As we use the emission allowances that we have purchased on the open market, costs associated with such purchases will be recognized as operating expense. If such allowances are available for purchase, but only at significantly higher prices, the purchase of such allowances could materially increase our costs of operations in the affected markets.
Our future results may be impacted by changing customer and stakeholder expectations and demands including heightened emphasis on environmental, social and governance concerns.
Our business outcomes are influenced by the expectations of our customers and stakeholders. Those expectations are based on the core fundamentals of reliability and affordability but are also increasingly focused on our ability to meet rapidly changing demands for new and varied products, services and offerings. Additionally, the risks of global climate change continues to shape our customers’ and stakeholders’ sustainability goals and energy needs. Failure to meet those expectations or to adequately address the risks and external pressures from regulators, investors and other stakeholders may impact favorable outcomes in future rate cases and our results of operations.
Crypto Asset Mining Related Risks
The open-source structure of the certain crypto asset network protocol, including Bitcoin, means that the contributors to the protocol are generally not directly compensated for their contributions in maintaining and developing the protocol. A failure to properly monitor and upgrade the protocol could damage that network and an investment in us.
The Bitcoin network, for example, operates based on an open-source protocol maintained by contributors, largely on the Bitcoin Core project on GitHub. As an open source project, Bitcoin is not represented by an official organization or authority. As the Bitcoin network protocol is not sold and its use does not generate revenues for contributors, contributors are generally not compensated for maintaining and updating the Bitcoin network protocol. Although the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative funds the current maintainer Wladimir J. van der Laan, among others, this type of financial incentive is not typical. The lack of guaranteed financial incentive for contributors to maintain or develop the Bitcoin network and the lack of guaranteed resources to adequately address emerging issues with the Bitcoin network may reduce incentives to address the issues adequately or in a timely manner. Changes to a crypto asset network which we are mining on may adversely affect an investment in us.
The further development and acceptance of crypto asset networks and other crypto assets, which represent a new and rapidly changing industry, are subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to evaluate. The slowing or stopping of the development or acceptance of crypto asset systems may adversely affect an investment in us.
Crypto assets built on blockchain technology were only introduced in 2008 and remain in the early stages of development. The use of crypto assets to, among other things, buy and sell goods and services and complete transactions, is part of a new and rapidly evolving industry that employs crypto assets, including Bitcoin, based upon a computer-generated mathematical and/or cryptographic protocol. The further growth and development of any crypto assets and their underlying networks and other cryptographic and algorithmic protocols governing the creation, transfer and usage of crypto assets represent a new and evolving paradigm that is subject to a variety of factors that are difficult to evaluate, including:
•continued worldwide growth in the adoption and use of crypto assets as a medium to exchange;
•governmental and quasi-governmental regulation of Bitcoin and its use, or restrictions on or regulation of access to and operation of the Bitcoin network or similar crypto asset systems;
•changes in consumer demographics and public tastes and preferences;
•the maintenance and development of the open-source software protocol of the network, including software updates and changes to network protocols that could introduce bugs or security risks;
•the increased consolidation of contributors to the Bitcoin blockchain through mining pools;
•the availability and popularity of other forms or methods of buying and selling goods and services, including new means of using fiat currencies;
•the use of the networks supporting crypto assets for developing smart contracts and distributed applications;
•general economic conditions and the regulatory environment relating to crypto assets;
•environmental restrictions on the use of power to mine Bitcoin and a resulting decrease in global Bitcoin mining operations;
•an increase in Bitcoin transaction costs and a resultant reduction in the use of and demand for Bitcoin; and
•negative consumer sentiment and perception of Bitcoin specifically and crypto assets generally.
The outcome of these factors could have negative effects on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our business strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations as well as potentially negative effect on the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account, which would harm investors in our securities.
Our reliance on a third-party mining pool service provider for our mining revenue payouts may have a negative impact on our operations such as a result of cyber-attacks against the mining pool operator and/or our limited recourse against the mining pool operator with respect to rewards paid to us.
We receive crypto asset mining rewards from our mining activity through a third-party mining pool operator. Mining pools allow miners to combine their processing power, increasing their chances of solving a block and getting paid by the network. The rewards are distributed by the pool operator, proportionally to our contribution to the pool’s overall mining power, used to generate each block. Should the pool operator’s system suffer downtime due to a cyber-attack, software malfunction or other similar issues, it will negatively impact our ability to mine and receive revenue. Furthermore, we are dependent on the accuracy of the mining pool operator’s record keeping to accurately record the total processing power provided to the pool for a given Bitcoin mining application in order to assess the proportion of that total processing power we provided.
While we have internal methods of tracking both our power provided and the total used by the pool, the mining pool operator uses its own recordkeeping to determine our proportion of a given reward. We have little means of recourse against the mining pool operator if we determine the proportion of the reward paid out to us by the mining pool operator is incorrect, other than leaving the pool. If we are unable to consistently obtain accurate proportionate rewards from our mining pool operators, we may experience reduced reward for our efforts, which would have an adverse effect on our business and operations.
Banks and financial institutions vary in the services they provide to businesses that engage in Bitcoin-related activities or that accept Bitcoin as payment.
Although a number of significant U.S. banks and investment institutions, such as Goldman Sachs, Citi Group, J. P. Morgan and BlackRock, allow customers to carry and invest in Bitcoin and other crypto assets, the acceptance and use by banks of crypto assets, including Bitcoin, varies. Additionally, a number of companies and individuals or businesses associated with crypto assets may have had and may continue to have their existing banking services discontinued with financial institutions in response to government action, particularly in China, where regulatory response to crypto assets has been to exclude their use for ordinary consumer transactions. In May 2021, the Chinese government called for a crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading. In September 2021, Chinese regulators instituted a blanket ban on all crypto mining and transactions, including banking services and overseas crypto exchange services taking place in China, effectively making all crypto-related activities illegal in China. However, in 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of the U.S. Treasury Department announced that national banks and federal savings associations may provide crypto asset custody services for customers. While we expect Bitcoin to continue to gain greater acceptance by banks and investment institutions, we cannot accurately predict the level and scope of services that these institutions will offer to businesses engaging in Bitcoin or other crypto asset related activities.
The usefulness of Bitcoin, the only crypto asset we currently mine, as a payment system and the public perception of Bitcoin could be damaged if banks or financial institutions were to close the accounts of businesses engaging in Bitcoin and/or other crypto asset-related activities. This could occur as a result of compliance risk, cost, government regulation or public pressure. The risk applies to securities firms, clearance and settlement firms, national stock and derivatives on commodities exchanges, the over-the-counter market, and the Depository Trust Company, which, if any of such entities adopts or implements similar policies, rules or regulations, could negatively affect our relationships with financial institutions and impede our ability to convert Bitcoin to fiat currencies. Such factors could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and harm investors.
We may face risks of Internet disruptions, which could have an adverse effect on the price of Bitcoin.
A disruption of the Internet may affect the use of Bitcoin and other crypto assets and subsequently the value of our Class A common stock. Generally, Bitcoin and our business of mining Bitcoin is dependent upon the Internet. A significant disruption in Internet connectivity could disrupt a currency’s network operations until the disruption is resolved and have an adverse effect on the price of Bitcoin and our ability to mine Bitcoin.
The impact of geopolitical and economic events on the supply and demand for crypto assets, including Bitcoin, is uncertain.
Geopolitical crises may motivate large-scale purchases of Bitcoin and other crypto assets, which could increase the price of Bitcoin and other crypto assets rapidly. Our business and the infrastructure on which our business relies is
vulnerable to damage or interruption from catastrophic occurrences, such as war, civil unrest, terrorist
attacks, geopolitical events, disease, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and similar events. Specifically, the uncertain
nature, magnitude, and duration of hostilities stemming from Russia’s recent military invasion of Ukraine, including the
potential effects of sanctions limitations, retaliatory cyber-attacks on the world economy and markets, and potential
shipping delays, have contributed to increased market volatility and uncertainty, which could have an adverse impact on
macroeconomic factors that affect our business. This may increase the likelihood of a subsequent price decrease as crisis-driven purchasing behavior dissipates, adversely affecting the value of our inventory following such downward adjustment. Such risks are similar to the risks of purchasing commodities in general uncertain times, such as the risk of purchasing, holding or selling gold. Alternatively, as an emerging asset class with limited acceptance as a payment system or commodity, global crises and general economic downturn may discourage investment in Bitcoin as investors focus their investment on less volatile asset classes as a means of hedging their investment risk.
As an alternative to fiat currencies that are backed by central governments, Bitcoin, which is relatively new, is subject to supply and demand forces. How such supply and demand will be impacted by geopolitical events is largely uncertain but could be harmful to us and investors in our Class A common stock. Political or economic crises may motivate large-scale acquisitions or sales of Bitcoin either globally or locally. Such events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account.
Governmental actions may have a materially adverse effect on the crypto asset mining industry as a whole, which would have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
China has historically been the world’s largest producer of Bitcoin and has housed the large majority of the world’s crypto asset mining power (some observers estimate that China produced as high as 80% of the world’s crypto asset mining power at certain points in time). In May 2021, the Chinese government called for a crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading. In September 2021, Chinese regulators instituted a blanket ban on all crypto mining and transactions, including overseas crypto exchange services taking place in China, effectively making all crypto-related activities illegal in China. In January 2022, the Central Bank of Russia called for a ban on cryptocurrency activities ranging from mining to trading. We cannot quantify the effects of this regulatory action on our industry as a whole. If further regulation follows, it is possible that our industry may not be able to cope with the sudden and extreme loss of mining power.
Additionally, in May 2021, a bill was presented to the New York Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee that would have established a three-year moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers pending an environmental impact study on the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the Bitcoin mining industry in the State of New York but that bill failed to pass the state assembly in June 2021. On March 8, 2022, President Biden announced an executive order on cryptocurrencies which seeks to establish a unified federal regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies. Because we are unable to influence or predict future regulatory actions taken by governments in China, the United States, or elsewhere, we may have little opportunity or ability to respond to rapidly evolving regulatory positions which may have a materially adverse effect on our industry and, therefore, our business and results of operations. If further extreme regulatory action is taken by various governmental entities, our business may suffer and investors in our securities may lose part or all of their investment.
We may not be able to compete with other companies, some of whom have greater resources and experience.
We may not be able to compete successfully against present or future competitors. We do not have the resources to compete with larger providers of similar services at this time. The crypto asset industry has attracted various high-profile and well-established operators, some of which have substantially greater liquidity and financial resources than we do. Additionally, the number of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency mining companies has increased in recent years. With the limited resources we have available, we may experience great difficulties in expanding and improving our network of computers to remain competitive. Competition from existing and future competitors, particularly those that have access to competitively priced energy, could result in our inability to secure acquisitions and partnerships that we may need to expand our business in the future. This competition from other entities with greater resources, experience and reputations may result in our failure to maintain or expand our business, as we may never be able to successfully execute our business plan. If we are unable to expand and remain competitive, our business could be negatively affected which would have an adverse effect on the trading price of our Class A common stock, which would harm investors in our Company.
The properties included in our mining network may experience damages, including damages that are not covered by insurance.
Our current mining operations in Venango County in Western Pennsylvania and Carbon County in Eastern Pennsylvania are, and any future mining operations we establish will be, subject to a variety of risks relating to physical condition and operation, including:
•the presence of construction or repair defects or other structural or building damage;
•any noncompliance with or liabilities under applicable environmental, health or safety regulations or requirements or building permit requirements;
•any damage resulting from natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods and windstorms; and
•claims by employees and others for injuries sustained at our properties.
For example, our mining operations could be rendered inoperable, temporarily or permanently, as a result of a fire or other natural disaster or by a terrorist or other attack on the facilities where are miners are located. The security and other measures we take to protect against these risks may not be sufficient. Our property insurance covers both plant and mining equipment, and includes business interruption for both power plant and mining operations, subject to certain deductibles. Therefore, our insurance may not be adequate to cover the losses we suffer as a result of any of these events. In the event of an uninsured loss, including a loss in excess of insured limits, at any of the mines in our network, such mines may not be adequately repaired in a timely manner or at all and we may lose some or all of the future revenues anticipated to be
derived from such mines. The potential impact on our business is currently magnified because we are only operating from a single location.
Acceptance and/or widespread use of Bitcoin and other crypto assets is uncertain.
Currently, there is a relatively limited use of any crypto assets, with Bitcoin being the most utilized, in the retail and commercial marketplace, thus contributing to price volatility that could adversely affect an investment in our Class A common stock. Banks and other established financial institutions may refuse to process funds for Bitcoin transactions, process wire transfers to or from Bitcoin exchanges, Bitcoin-related companies or service providers, or maintain accounts for persons or entities transacting in Bitcoin. Conversely, a significant portion of Bitcoin demand is generated by investors seeking a long-term store of value or speculators seeking to profit from the short- or long-term holding of the asset. Price volatility undermines Bitcoin’s role as a medium of exchange, as retailers are much less likely to accept it as a form of payment. Market capitalization for Bitcoin as a medium of exchange and payment method may always be low.
The relative lack of acceptance of Bitcoin in the retail and commercial marketplace, or a reduction of such use, limits the ability of end users to use them to pay for goods and services. Such lack of acceptance or decline in acceptances could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account.
The characteristics of crypto assets have been, and may in the future continue to be, exploited to facilitate illegal activity such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and ransomware scams; if any of our customers do so or are alleged to have done so, it could adversely affect us.
Digital currencies and the digital currency industry are relatively new and, in many cases, lightly regulated or largely unregulated. Some types of digital currency have characteristics, such as the speed with which digital currency transactions can be conducted, the ability to conduct transactions without the involvement of regulated intermediaries, the ability to engage in transactions across multiple jurisdictions, the irreversible nature of certain digital currency transactions and encryption technology that anonymizes these transactions, that make digital currency particularly susceptible to use in illegal activity such as fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and ransomware scams. Two prominent examples of marketplaces that accepted digital currency payments for illegal activities include Silk Road, an online marketplace on the dark web that, among other things, facilitated the sale of illegal drugs and forged legal documents using digital currencies and AlphaBay, another darknet market that utilized digital currencies to hide the locations of its servers and identities of its users. Both of these marketplaces were investigated and closed by U.S. law enforcement authorities. U.S. regulators, including the SEC, CFTC, and Federal Trade Commission, as well as non-U.S. regulators, have taken legal action against persons alleged to be engaged in Ponzi schemes and other fraudulent schemes involving digital currencies. In addition, the FBI has noted the increasing use of digital currency in various ransomware scams.
While we believe that our risk management and compliance framework, which includes thorough reviews we conduct as part of our due diligence process, is reasonably designed to detect any such illicit activities conducted by our potential or existing customers, we cannot ensure that we will be able to detect any such illegal activity in all instances. Because the speed, irreversibility and anonymity of certain digital currency transactions make them more difficult to track, fraudulent transactions may be more likely to occur. We or our potential banking counterparties may be specifically targeted by individuals seeking to conduct fraudulent transfers, and it may be difficult or impossible for us to detect and avoid such transactions in certain circumstances. If one of our customers (or in the case of digital currency exchanges, their customers) were to engage in or be accused of engaging in illegal activities using digital currency, we could be subject to various fines and sanctions, including limitations on our activities, which could also cause reputational damage and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The decentralized nature of crypto asset systems may lead to slow or inadequate responses to crises, which may negatively affect our business.
The decentralized nature of the governance of crypto asset systems may lead to ineffective decision making that slows development or prevents a network from overcoming emergent obstacles. Governance of many crypto asset systems is by voluntary consensus and open competition with no clear leadership structure or authority. To the extent lack of clarity in corporate governance of the Bitcoin system leads to ineffective decision making that slows development and growth of Bitcoin, the value of our securities may be adversely affected.
It may be illegal now, or in the future, to acquire, own, hold, sell or use Bitcoin or other crypto assets, participate in blockchains or utilize similar crypto assets in one or more countries, the ruling of which would adversely affect us.
Although currently crypto assets generally are not regulated or are lightly regulated in most countries, countries such as China and Russia have taken harsh regulatory action to curb the use of crypto assets and may continue to take regulatory action in the future that could severely restrict the right to acquire, own, hold, sell or use these crypto assets or to exchange them for fiat currency. In September 2021, China instituted a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, including services provided by overseas crypto exchanges in mainland China, effectively making all crypto-related activities illegal in China. In other nations, including Russia, it is illegal to accept payment in Bitcoin or other crypto assets for consumer transactions, and banking institutions are barred from accepting deposits of Bitcoin. In January 2022, the Central Bank of Russia called for a ban on cryptocurrency activities ranging from mining to trading. Such restrictions may adversely affect us as the large-scale use of Bitcoin as a means of exchange is presently confined to certain regions globally. Such circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account, ultimately harming investors.
There is a lack of liquid markets, and possible manipulation of blockchain/crypto assets.
Cryptocurrencies that are represented and trade on a ledger-based platform may not necessarily benefit from viable trading markets. Stock exchanges have listing requirements and vet issuers; requiring them to be subjected to rigorous listing standards and rules, and monitor investors transacting on such platform for fraud and other improprieties. These conditions may not necessarily be replicated on a distributed ledger platform, depending on the platform’s controls and other policies. The laxer a distributed ledger platform is about vetting issuers of crypto asset assets or users that transact on the platform, the higher the potential risk for fraud or the manipulation of the ledger due to a control event. These factors may decrease liquidity or volume or may otherwise increase volatility of investment securities or other assets trading on a ledger-based system, which may adversely affect us. Such circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account, and harm investors.
Crypto assets may have concentrated ownership and large sales or distributions by holders of such crypto assets could have an adverse effect on the market price of such crypto asset.
As of December 31, 2020, the largest 100 Bitcoin wallets held approximately 14% of the Bitcoins in circulation. Moreover, it is possible that other persons or entities control multiple wallets that collectively hold a significant number of Bitcoins, even if they individually only hold a small amount, and it is possible that some of these wallets are controlled by the same person or entity. Similar or more concentrated levels of concentrated ownership may exist for other crypto assets as well. As a result of this concentration of ownership, large sales or distributions by such holders could have an adverse effect on the market price of Bitcoin and other crypto assets.
Our operations, investment strategies and profitability may be adversely affected by competition from other methods of investing in Bitcoin.
We compete with other users and/or companies that are mining Bitcoin and other potential financial vehicles, including securities backed by or linked to Bitcoin through entities similar to us. Market and financial conditions, and other conditions beyond our control, may make it more attractive to invest in other financial vehicles, or to invest in Bitcoin directly, which could limit the market for our shares and reduce their liquidity. The emergence of other financial vehicles and exchange-traded funds have been scrutinized by regulators and such scrutiny and the negative impressions or conclusions resulting from such scrutiny could be applicable to us and impact our ability to successfully pursue our strategy or operate at all, or to establish or maintain a public market for our securities. Such circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account, and harm investors.
The development and acceptance of competing blockchain platforms or technologies may cause consumers to use alternative distributed ledgers or other alternatives.
The development and acceptance of competing blockchain platforms or technologies may cause consumers to use alternative distributed ledgers or an alternative to distributed ledgers altogether. Our business utilizes presently existent digital ledgers and blockchains and we could face difficulty adapting to emergent digital ledgers, blockchains, or
alternatives thereto. This may adversely affect us and our exposure to various blockchain technologies and prevent us from realizing the anticipated profits from our investments. Such circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account, and harm investors.
The loss or destruction of private keys required to access any crypto assets held in custody for our own account may be irreversible. If we are unable to access our private keys or if we experience a hack or other data loss relating to our ability to access any crypto assets, it could cause regulatory scrutiny, reputational harm, and other losses.
Crypto assets are generally controllable only by the possessor of the unique private key relating to the digital wallet in which the crypto assets are held. While blockchain protocols typically require public addresses to be published when used in a transaction, private keys must be safeguarded and kept private in order to prevent a third party from accessing the crypto assets held in such a wallet. To the extent that any of the private keys relating to our hot wallet or cold storage containing crypto assets held for our own account or for our customers is lost, destroyed, or otherwise compromised or unavailable, and no backup of the private key is accessible, we will be unable to access the crypto assets held in the related wallet. Further, we cannot provide assurance that our wallet will not be hacked or compromised. Digital assets and blockchain technologies have been, and may in the future be, subject to security breaches, hacking, or other malicious activities. Any loss of private keys relating to, or hack or other compromise of, digital wallets used to store our customers’ crypto assets could adversely affect our ability to access or sell our crypto assets, and subject us to significant financial losses. As such, any loss of private keys due to a hack, employee or service provider misconduct or error, or other compromise by third parties could hurt our brand and reputation, result in significant losses, and adversely impact our business. The total value of crypto assets in our possession and control is significantly greater than the total value of insurance coverage that would compensate us in the event of theft or other loss of funds.
Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin face significant scaling obstacles that can lead to high fees or slow transaction settlement times.
Cryptocurrencies face significant scaling obstacles that can lead to high fees or slow transaction settlement times, and attempts to increase the volume of transactions may not be effective. Scaling crypto assets is essential to the widespread acceptance of crypto assets as a means of payment, which widespread acceptance is necessary to the continued growth and development of our business. Many crypto asset networks, including the Bitcoin network, face significant scaling challenges. For example, crypto assets are limited with respect to how many transactions can occur per second. Participants in the crypto asset ecosystem debate potential approaches to increasing the average number of transactions per second that the network can handle and have implemented mechanisms or are researching ways to increase scale, such as increasing the allowable sizes of blocks, and therefore the number of transactions per block, and sharding (a horizontal partition of data in a database or search engine), which would not require every single transaction to be included in every single miner’s or validator’s block. However, there is no guarantee that any of the mechanisms in place or being explored for increasing the scale of settlement of crypto assets and, specifically, Bitcoin transactions will be effective, or how long they will take to become effective, which could adversely affect an investment in our securities.
The price of Bitcoin may be affected by the sale of Bitcoin by other vehicles investing in Bitcoin or tracking Bitcoin markets.
The global market for Bitcoin is characterized by supply constraints that differ from those present in the markets for commodities or other assets such as gold and silver. The mathematical protocols under which Bitcoin is mined permit the creation of a limited, predetermined amount of currency, while others have no limit established on total supply. To the extent that other vehicles investing in Bitcoin or tracking Bitcoin markets form and come to represent a significant proportion of the demand for Bitcoin, large redemptions of the securities of those vehicles and the subsequent sale of Bitcoin by such vehicles could negatively affect Bitcoin prices and therefore affect the value of the Bitcoin inventory we hold. Such events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account.
The nature of our business requires the application of complex financial accounting rules, and there is limited guidance from accounting standard setting bodies. If financial accounting standards undergo significant changes, our operating results could be adversely affected.
The accounting rules and regulations that we must comply with are complex and subject to interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB"), the SEC, and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret
appropriate accounting principles. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported financial results, and may even affect the reporting of transactions completed before the announcement or effectiveness of a change. Recent actions and public comments from the FASB and the SEC have focused on the integrity of financial reporting and internal controls. In addition, many companies’ accounting policies are being subject to heightened scrutiny by regulators and the public. Further, there has been limited precedents for the financial accounting of crypto assets and related valuation and revenue recognition, and no official guidance has been provided by the FASB or the SEC. As such, there remains significant uncertainty on how companies can account for crypto asset transactions, crypto assets, and related revenue. Uncertainties in or changes to in regulatory or financial accounting standards could result in the need to changing our accounting methods and restate our financial statements and impair our ability to provide timely and accurate financial information, which could adversely affect our financial statements, result in a loss of investor confidence, and more generally impact our business, operating results, and financial condition.
There are risks related to technological obsolescence, the vulnerability of the global supply chain to Bitcoin hardware disruption, and difficulty in obtaining new hardware which may have a negative effect on our business.
Our mining operations can only be successful and ultimately profitable if the costs of mining Bitcoin, including hardware and electricity costs, associated with mining Bitcoin are lower than the price of a Bitcoin. As our mining facility operates, our miners experience ordinary wear and tear and general hardware breakdown, and may also face more significant malfunctions caused by a number of extraneous factors beyond our control. The physical degradation of our miners will require us to, over time, replace those miners which are no longer functional. Furthermore, a small number of miners delivered to date have not performed at the levels we initially anticipated; these and any future unanticipated performance issues could negatively affect our operating results. Additionally, as the technology evolves, we may be required to acquire newer models of miners to remain competitive in the market. Reports have been released which indicate that players in the mining equipment business adjust the prices of miners according to Bitcoin mining revenues, so the cost of new machines is unpredictable but could be extremely high. As a result, at times, we may obtain miners and other hardware from third parties at premium prices, to the extent they are available. In order to keep pace with technological advances and competition from other mining companies, it will be necessary to purchase new miners, which will eventually need to be repaired or replaced along with other equipment from time to time to stay competitive. This upgrading process requires substantial capital investment, and we may face challenges in doing so on a timely and cost-effective basis. Also, because we expect to depreciate all new miners, our reported operating results will be negatively affected.
The global supply chain for Bitcoin miners is presently constrained due to unprecedented demand coupled with a global semiconductor (including microchip) shortage and further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a significant portion of available miners being acquired by companies with substantial resources. Semiconductors are utilized in various devices and products and are a crucial component of miners; supply chain constraints coupled with increasing demand has led to increased pricing and limited availability for semiconductors. Prices for both new and older models of miners have been on the rise and these supply constraints are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. China, a major supplier of Bitcoin miners, has seen a production slowdown as a result of COVID-19. One of our suppliers, MinerVa, was unable to meet its original delivery schedule of 15,000 miners under an agreement entered into in April 2021 that provided for the delivery of such miners by December 31, 2021, due to supply chain, manufacturing and other issues. In December 2021, we extended the delivery date of the remaining approximately 14,000 miners to April 2022. In March 2022, MinerVa was again unable to meet its delivery date and has only delivered approximately 3,200 of the originally scheduled 15,000 miners. We do not know when the remaining MinerVa miners will be delivered, if at all. As a result, we may write off some or all of the undelivered MinerVa miners, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition. Should continued disruptions to the global supply chain for Bitcoin hardware occur, we may not be able to obtain adequate replacement parts for our existing miners or to obtain additional miners on a timely basis, if at all, or we may only be able to acquire miners at premium prices. Such events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to pursue our strategy, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and the value of our securities.
Moreover, we may experience unanticipated disruptions to operations or other difficulties with our supply chain due to volatility in regional markets where our miners are sourced, particularly China and Taiwan, changes in the general macroeconomic outlook, political instability, expropriation or nationalization of property, civil strife, strikes, insurrections, acts of terrorism, acts of war or natural disasters. For example, our business operations may be adversely affected by the current and future political environment in the Communist Party of China. China’s government has exercised and continues to exercise substantial control over virtually every sector of the Chinese economy through regulation and state ownership. In May 2021, the Chinese government called for a crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading. In September 2021, Chinese regulators instituted a blanket ban on all crypto mining and transactions, including overseas crypto exchange services taking place in China, effectively making all crypto-related activities illegal in China. Our ability to source miners from
China may be adversely affected by changes in Chinese laws and regulations, including those relating to taxation, import and export tariffs and other matters.
We may not adequately respond to price fluctuations and rapidly changing technology, which may negatively affect our business.
Competitive conditions within the Bitcoin industry require that we use sophisticated technology in the operation of our business. The industry for blockchain technology is characterized by rapid technological changes, new product introductions, enhancements and evolving industry standards. New technologies, techniques or products could emerge that might offer better performance than the software and other technologies we currently utilize, and we may have to manage transitions to these new technologies to remain competitive. We may not be successful, generally or relative to our competitors in the Bitcoin industry, in timely implementing new technology into our systems, or doing so in a cost-effective manner. During the course of implementing any such new technology into our operations, we may experience system interruptions and failures during such implementation. Furthermore, there can be no assurances that we will recognize, in a timely manner or at all, the benefits that we may expect as a result of our implementing new technology into our operations. As a result, our business and operations may suffer, and there may be adverse effects on the value of our securities.
The Bitcoin reward for successfully uncovering a block will halve several times in the future and Bitcoin value may not adjust to compensate us for the reduction in the rewards we receive from our mining efforts.
Halving is a process incorporated into many proof-of-work consensus algorithms that reduces the coin reward paid to miners over time according to a pre-determined schedule. This reduction in reward spreads out the release of crypto assets over a long period of time resulting in an ever smaller number of coins being mined, reducing the risk of coin-based inflation. At a predetermined block, the mining reward is cut in half, hence the term “halving.” For Bitcoin, the reward was initially set at 50 Bitcoin currency rewards per block and this was cut in half to 25 on November 28, 2012 at block 210,000, then again to 12.5 on July 9, 2016 at block 420,000. The most recent halving for Bitcoin happened on May 11, 2020 at block 630,000 and the reward reduced to 6.25. The next halving will likely occur in 2024. This process will reoccur until the total amount of Bitcoin currency rewards issued reaches 21 million, which is expected around 2140. While Bitcoin price has had a history of price fluctuations around the halving of its rewards, there is no guarantee that the price change will be favorable or would compensate for the reduction in mining reward. If a corresponding and proportionate increase in the trading price of Bitcoin or a proportionate decrease in mining difficulty does not follow these anticipated halving events, the revenue we earn from our Bitcoin mining operations would see a corresponding decrease, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.
Our future success will depend upon the value of Bitcoin and other crypto assets; the value of Bitcoin may be subject to pricing risk and has historically been subject to wide swings.
Our operating results will depend on the value of Bitcoin because it is the only crypto asset we currently mine. Specifically, our revenues from our Bitcoin mining operations are based on two factors: (1) the number of Bitcoin rewards we successfully mine and (2) the value of Bitcoin. In addition, our operating results are directly impacted by changes in the value of Bitcoin, because under the value measurement model, both realized and unrealized changes will be reflected in our statement of operations (i.e., we will be marking Bitcoin to fair value each quarter). This means that our operating results will be subject to swings based upon increases or decreases in the value of Bitcoin. Further, our current miners are principally utilized for mining Bitcoin and do not generally mine other crypto assets, such as Ether, that are not mined utilizing the “SHA-256 algorithm.” If other crypto assets were to achieve acceptance at the expense of Bitcoin causing the value of Bitcoin to decline, or if Bitcoin were to switch its proof of work encryption algorithm from SHA-256 to another algorithm for which our miners are not specialized, or the value of Bitcoin were to decline for other reasons, particularly if such decline were significant or over an extended period of time, our operating results would be adversely affected, and there could be a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations, and harm investors.
The market price of Bitcoin, which has historically and recently been volatile and is impacted by a variety of factors (including those discussed herein), is determined primarily using data from various exchanges, over-the-counter markets and derivative platforms. Furthermore, such prices may be subject to factors such as those that impact commodities, more so than business activities, which could be subjected to additional influence from fraudulent or illegitimate actors, real or perceived scarcity, and political, economic, regulatory or other conditions. Pricing may be the result of, and may continue to result in, speculation regarding future appreciation in the value of Bitcoin, or our share price, inflating and making their market prices more volatile or creating “bubble” type risks for both Bitcoin and shares of our securities.
Demand for Bitcoin is driven, in part, by its status as the most prominent and secure crypto asset. It is possible that crypto assets other than Bitcoin could have features that make them more desirable to a material portion of the crypto asset user base, resulting in a reduction in demand for Bitcoin, which could have a negative impact on the price of Bitcoin and adversely affect an investment in us.
Bitcoin, as an asset, holds “first-to-market” advantages over other crypto assets. This first-to-market advantage is driven in large part by having the largest user base and, more importantly, the largest mining power in use to secure its blockchain and transaction verification system. Having a large mining network results in greater user confidence regarding the security and long-term stability of a crypto asset’s network and its blockchain; as a result, the advantage of more users and miners makes a crypto asset more secure, which makes it more attractive to new users and miners, resulting in a network effect that strengthens the first-to-market advantage.
Despite the marked first-mover advantage of the Bitcoin network over other crypto asset networks, it is possible that another crypto asset could become materially popular due to either a perceived or exposed shortcoming of the Bitcoin network protocol that is not immediately addressed by the Bitcoin contributor community or a perceived advantage of an altcoin that includes features not incorporated into Bitcoin. If a crypto asset obtains significant market share (either in market capitalization, mining power or use as a payment technology), this could reduce Bitcoin’s market share as well as other crypto assets we may become involved in and have a negative impact on the demand for, and price of, such crypto assets and could adversely affect an investment in us. It is possible that we will mine alternative crypto assets in the future, but we may not have as much experience to date in comparison to our experience mining Bitcoin, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage.
We may not be able to realize the benefits of forks. Forks in a crypto asset network may occur in the future which may affect the value of Bitcoin held by us.
To the extent that a significant majority of users and miners on a crypto asset network install software that changes the crypto asset network or properties of a crypto asset, including the irreversibility of transactions and limitations on the mining of new crypto asset, the crypto asset network would be subject to new protocols and software. However, if less than a significant majority of users and miners on the crypto asset network consent to the proposed modification, and the modification is not compatible with the software prior to its modification, the consequence would be what is known as a “fork” of the network, with one prong running the pre-modified software and the other running the modified software. The effect of such a fork would be the existence of two versions of the crypto asset running in parallel, yet lacking interchangeability and necessitating exchange-type transaction to convert currencies between the two forks. Additionally, it may be unclear following a fork which fork represents the original asset and which is the new asset. Different metrics adopted by industry participants to determine which is the original asset include: referring to the wishes of the core developers of a crypto asset, blockchains with the greatest amount of hashing power contributed by miners or validators; or blockchains with the longest chain. A fork in the Bitcoin network could adversely affect an investment in our securities or our ability to operate.
We may not be able to realize the economic benefit of a fork, either immediately or ever, which could adversely affect an investment in our securities. If we hold Bitcoin at the time of a hard fork into two crypto assets, industry standards would dictate that we would be expected to hold an equivalent amount of the old and new assets following the fork. However, we may not be able, or it may not be practical, to secure or realize the economic benefit of the new asset for various reasons. For instance, we may determine that there is no safe or practical way to custody the new asset, that trying to do so may pose an unacceptable risk to our holdings in the old asset, or that the costs of taking possession and/or maintaining ownership of the new crypto asset exceed the benefits of owning the new crypto asset. Additionally, laws, regulation or other factors may prevent us from benefiting from the new asset even if there is a safe and practical way to custody and secure the new asset.
There is a possibility of Bitcoin mining algorithms transitioning to proof of stake validation and other mining related risks, which could make us less competitive and ultimately adversely affect our business and the value of our stock.
Proof of stake is an alternative method for validating Bitcoin transactions. Should Bitcoin’s algorithm shift from a proof of work validation method to a proof of stake method, mining would require less energy and may render any company that maintains advantages in the current climate (for example, from lower priced electricity, processing, real estate, or hosting) less competitive. We, as a result of our efforts to optimize and improve the efficiency of our Bitcoin mining operations, may be exposed to the risk in the future of losing the benefit of our capital investments and the competitive advantage we hope to gain form this as a result, and may be negatively impacted if a switch to proof of stake validation were to occur. Such events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or
to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account.
If a malicious actor or botnet obtains control in excess of 50% of the processing power active on any crypto asset network, including the Bitcoin network, it is possible that such actor or botnet could manipulate the blockchain in a manner that adversely affects an investment in us.
If a malicious actor or botnet (a volunteer or hacked collection of computers controlled by networked software coordinating the actions of the computers) obtains a majority of the processing power dedicated to mining on any crypto asset network, including the Bitcoin network, it may be able to alter the blockchain by constructing alternate blocks if it is able to solve for such blocks faster than the remainder of the miners on the blockchain can add valid blocks. In such alternate blocks, the malicious actor or botnet could control, exclude or modify the ordering of transactions, though it could not generate new crypto assets or transactions using such control. Using alternate blocks, the malicious actor could “double-spend” its own crypto assets (i.e., spend the same crypto assets in more than one transaction) and prevent the confirmation of other users’ transactions for so long as it maintains control. To the extent that such malicious actor or botnet does not yield its majority control of the processing power or the crypto asset community does not reject the fraudulent blocks as malicious, reversing any changes made to the blockchain may not be possible. Such changes could adversely affect an investment in us.
For example, in late May and early June 2014, a mining pool known as GHash.io approached and, during a 24- to 48-hour period in early June may have exceeded, the threshold of 50% of the processing power on the Bitcoin network. To the extent that GHash.io did exceed 50% of the processing power on the network, reports indicate that such threshold was surpassed for only a short period, and there are no reports of any malicious activity or control of the blockchain performed by GHash.io. Furthermore, the processing power in the mining pool appears to have been redirected to other pools on a voluntary basis by participants in the GHash.io pool, as had been done in prior instances when a mining pool exceeded 40% of the processing power on the Bitcoin network.
The approach towards and possible crossing of the 50% threshold indicate a greater risk that a single mining pool could exert authority over the validation of crypto asset transactions. To the extent that the crypto assets ecosystems do not act to ensure greater decentralization of crypto asset mining processing power, the feasibility of a malicious actor obtaining in excess of 50% of the processing power on any crypto asset network (e.g., through control of a large mining pool or through hacking such a mining pool) will increase, which may adversely impact an investment in us.
Cryptocurrencies, including those maintained by or for us, may be exposed to cybersecurity threats and hacks.
As with any computer code generally, flaws in crypto asset codes, including Bitcoin codes, may be exposed by malicious actors. Several errors and defects have been found previously, including those that disabled some functionality for users and exposed users’ information. Exploitations of flaws in the source code that allow malicious actors to take or create money have previously occurred. Despite our efforts and processes to prevent breaches, our devices, as well as our miners, computer systems and those of third parties that we use in our operations, are vulnerable to cyber security risks, including cyber-attacks such as viruses and worms, phishing attacks, denial-of-service attacks, physical or electronic break-ins, employee theft or misuse, and similar disruptions from unauthorized tampering with our miners and computer systems or those of third parties that we use in our operations. As technological change occurs, the security threats to our cryptocurrencies will likely change and previously unknown threats may emerge. Human error and the constantly evolving state of cybercrime and hacking techniques may render present security protocols and procedures ineffective in ways which we cannot predict. Such events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue as a going concern or to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account.
If the award of Bitcoin reward for solving blocks and transaction fees, is not sufficiently high, we may not have an adequate incentive to continue mining and may cease mining operations, which will likely lead to our failure to achieve profitability.
As the number of Bitcoins awarded for solving a block in a blockchain decreases, our ability to achieve profitability worsens. Decreased use and demand for Bitcoin rewards may adversely affect our incentive to expend processing power to solve blocks. If the award of Bitcoin rewards for solving blocks and transaction fees are not sufficiently high, we may not have an adequate incentive to continue mining and may cease our mining operations. Miners ceasing operations would reduce the collective processing power on the network, which would adversely affect the confirmation process for transactions (i.e., temporarily decreasing the speed at which blocks are added to a blockchain until the next scheduled adjustment in difficulty for block solutions) and make the Bitcoin network more vulnerable to a malicious actor or botnet obtaining control in excess of 50 percent of the processing power active on a blockchain, potentially permitting such actor
or botnet to manipulate a blockchain in a manner that adversely affects our activities. A reduction in confidence in the confirmation process or processing power of the network could result and be irreversible. Such events could have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue to pursue our strategy at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects or operations and potentially the value of any Bitcoin we mine or otherwise acquire or hold for our own account.
Transactional fees may decrease demand for Bitcoin and prevent expansion that could adversely impact an investment in us.
As the number of Bitcoins currency rewards awarded for solving a block in a blockchain decreases, the incentive for miners to continue to contribute to the Bitcoin network may transition from a set reward to transaction fees. In order to incentivize miners to continue to contribute to the Bitcoin network, the Bitcoin network may either formally or informally transition from a set reward to transaction fees earned upon solving a block. This transition could be accomplished by miners independently electing to record in the blocks they solve only those transactions that include payment of a transaction fee. If transaction fees paid for Bitcoin transactions become too high, the marketplace may be reluctant to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment and existing users may be motivated to switch from Bitcoin to another crypto asset or to fiat currency. Either the requirement from miners of higher transaction fees in exchange for recording transactions in a blockchain or a software upgrade that automatically charges fees for all transactions may decrease demand for Bitcoin and prevent the expansion of the Bitcoin network to retail merchants and commercial businesses, resulting in a reduction in the price of Bitcoin that could adversely impact an investment in our securities. Decreased use and demand for Bitcoins that we have accumulated may adversely affect their value and may adversely impact an investment in us.
Because the number of Bitcoin awarded for solving a block in the Bitcoin network blockchain continually decreases, miners must invest in increasing processing power to maintain their yield of Bitcoins, which might make Bitcoin mining uneconomical for us.
The award of new Bitcoin for solving blocks continually declines, so that Bitcoin miners must invest in increasing processing power in order to maintain or increase their yield of Bitcoin. If the pricing of Bitcoin were to decline significantly, there can be no assurance that we would be able to recover our investment in the computer hardware and processing power required to upgrade our mining operations. There can, moreover, be no assurance that we will have the resources to upgrade our processing power in order to maintain the continuing profitability of our mining operations. Also, the developers of the Bitcoin network or other programmers could propose amendments to the network’s protocols and software that, if accepted, might require us to modify our Bitcoin operations, and increase our investment in Bitcoin, in order to maintain profitability. There can be no assurance, however, that we will be able to do so.
Bitcoin mining is capital intensive.
Remaining competitive in the Bitcoin mining industry requires significant capital expenditure on new chips and other hardware necessary to increase processing power as the Bitcoin network difficulty increases. If we are unable to fund our capital expenditures, either through our revenue stream or through other sources of capital, we may be unable to remain competitive and experience a deterioration in our result of operations and financial condition.
Our crypto assets may be subject to loss, damage, theft or restriction on access. Additionally, incorrect or fraudulent cryptocurrency transactions may be irreversible.
There is a risk that part or all of our crypto assets could be lost, stolen or destroyed. Crypto assets are stored in crypto asset sites commonly referred to as “wallets” which may be accessed to exchange a holder’s crypto assets. Access to our Bitcoin assets could also be restricted by cybercrime (such as a denial of service attack) against a service at which we maintain a hosted wallet. We believe that our crypto assets will be an appealing target to hackers or malware distributors seeking to destroy, damage or steal our crypto assets. Hackers or malicious actors may attempt to steal Bitcoins, such as by attacking the Bitcoin network source code, exchange miners, third-party platforms, storage locations or software, our general computer systems or networks, or by other means. We cannot guarantee that we will prevent loss, damage or theft, whether caused intentionally, accidentally or by act of God. Access to our crypto assets could also be restricted by natural events (such as an earthquake or flood) or human actions (such as a terrorist attack). Any of these events may adversely affect the Company’s operations and, consequently, an investment in us.
Further, it is possible that, through computer or human error, theft or criminal action, our crypto assets could be transferred in incorrect amounts or to unauthorized third parties or accounts. In general, Bitcoin transactions are irrevocable, and stolen or incorrectly transferred cryptocurrencies may be irretrievable, and we may have extremely limited
or no effective means of recovering such Bitcoins. As a result, any incorrectly executed or fraudulent Bitcoin transactions could adversely affect our business.
The limited rights of legal recourse against us, and our lack of insurance protection expose us and our stockholders to the risk of loss of our crypto assets for which no person is liable.
The crypto assets held by us are not insured. Therefore, a loss may be suffered with respect to our crypto assets which is not covered by insurance and for which no person is liable in damages which could adversely affect our operations and, consequently, an investment in us.
Digital assets held by us are not subject to FDIC or SIPC protections.
We do not hold our crypto assets with a banking institution or a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) or the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”) and, therefore, our crypto assets are not subject to the protections enjoyed by depositors with FDIC or SIPC member institutions.
Intellectual property rights claims may adversely affect the operation of some or all crypto asset networks.
Third parties may assert intellectual property claims relating to the holding and transfer of crypto assets and their source code. Regardless of the merit of any intellectual property or other legal action, any threatened action that reduces confidence in some or all crypto asset networks’ long-term viability or the ability of end-users to hold and transfer crypto assets may adversely affect an investment in us. Additionally, a meritorious intellectual property claim could prevent us and other end-users from accessing some or all crypto asset networks or holding or transferring their crypto assets. As a result, an intellectual property claim against us or other large crypto asset network participants could adversely affect an investment in us.
Power Generation Related Risks
Our financial performance, as relating to both our power sales and Bitcoin mining operations, may be impacted by price fluctuations in the wholesale power market, as well as fluctuations in coal markets and other market factors that are beyond our control.
Our revenues, cost of doing business, results of operations and operating cash flows generally may be impacted by price fluctuations in the wholesale power market and other market factors beyond our control. Market prices for power, capacity, ancillary services, natural gas, coal and oil are unpredictable and tend to fluctuate substantially. Unlike most other commodities, electric power can only be stored on a very limited basis and generally must be produced concurrently with its use. As a result, power prices are subject to significant volatility due to supply and demand imbalances, especially in the day-ahead and spot markets. Long- and short-term power prices may also fluctuate substantially due to other factors outside of our control, including:
•changes in generation capacity in our markets, including the addition of new supplies of power as a result of the development of new plants, expansion of existing plants, the continued operation of uneconomic power plants due to state subsidies, or additional transmission capacity;
•environmental regulations and legislation;
•electric supply disruptions, including plant outages and transmission disruptions;
•changes in power transmission infrastructure;
•fuel transportation capacity or delivery constraints or inefficiencies and changes in the supply of fuel;
•changes in law, including judicial decisions;
•weather conditions, including extreme weather conditions and seasonal fluctuations, including the effects of climate change;
•changes in commodity prices and the supply of commodities, including but not limited to natural gas, coal and oil;
•changes in the demand for power or in patterns of power usage, including the potential development of demand-side management tools and practices, distributed generation, and more efficient end-use technologies;
•development of new fuels, new technologies and new forms of competition for the production of power;
•fuel price volatility;
•economic and political conditions;
•supply and demand for energy commodities;
•availability of competitively priced alternative energy sources, which are preferred by some customers over electricity produced from coal and customer-usage of energy-efficient equipment that reduces energy demand;
•ability to procure satisfactory levels of inventory, such as coal refuse; and
•changes in capacity prices and capacity markets.
Such factors and the associated fluctuations in power and prices could affect wholesale power generation profitability and cost of power for crypto asset mining activities.
Maintenance, expansion and refurbishment of power generation facilities involve significant risks that could result in unplanned power outages or reduced output and could have a material adverse effect on our Bitcoin mining and power sales revenues, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition. We are subject to liability risks relating to our competitive power generation business operations.
Our current power generation facility and plants that we may acquire in the future require periodic maintenance and repair. We have experienced higher-than-anticipated maintenance costs related to the Scrubgrass Plant, and we may continue to experience unexpected expenses at the Scrubgrass Plant or our other facilities in the future. During the fourth quarter of 2021 and continuing into 2022, the Scrubgrass Plant had downtime that was greater than anticipated, driven largely by mechanical failures. The upgrades we made that are necessary as a result of the deferred maintenance have taken longer and are more extensive than originally anticipated, although we expect these investments to be completed in the second half of 2022. Once finished, the Scrubgrass Plant is expected to be operational at nameplate capacity with higher uptime and lower operating costs, in line with original expectations. Nonetheless, the unexpected maintenance required to remedy plant downtime is necessarily coupled with decreased mining capacity while miners are out of operation during the downtime, which has resulted in and could continue to have significant impacts on our profitability. These or any other such unexpected plant expenses or failures, including failures associated with breakdowns, forced outages or any unanticipated capital expenditures, could have an adverse impact on our financial conditions.
We cannot be certain of the level of capital expenditures that will be required due to changing environmental and safety laws (including changes in the interpretation or enforcement thereof), needed facility repairs and unexpected events (such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks). The unexpected requirement of large capital expenditures could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity and financial condition. If we significantly modify a unit, we may be required to install the best available control technology or to achieve the lowest achievable emission rates as such terms are defined under the new source review provisions of the federal CAA, as amended from time to time, which would likely result in substantial additional capital expenditures.
The conduct of our physical and commercial operations subjects us to many risks, including risks of potential physical injury, property damage or other financial liability, caused to or by employees, customers, contractors, vendors, contractual or financial counterparties and other third parties.
Natural or man-made events may cause our power production to fall below our expectations.
Our electricity generation depends upon our ability to maintain the working order of our coal refuse power generation facility. A natural or manmade disaster, severe weather such as snow and ice storms, or accident could impede our ability to access the coal refuse that is necessary for our plant to operate, damage our transmission line preventing us from distributing power to the PJM grid and our miners or require us to shut down our plant or related equipment and facilities. To the extent we experience a prolonged interruption at our plant or a transmission outage due to natural or manmade events, our electricity generation levels could materially decrease. We may also incur significant repair and clean-up costs associated with these events. The effect of the failure of our plant to operate as planned as described above could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may not be able to operate the power generation facility as planned, which may increase our expenses and decrease our revenues and have an adverse effect on our financial performance.
Our operation of the power generation facility, information technology systems and other assets and conduct of other activities subjects us to a variety of risks, including the breakdown or failure of equipment, plant downtimes and related maintenance costs, accidents, security breaches, viruses or outages affecting information technology systems, labor disputes, obsolescence, delivery/transportation problems and disruptions of fuel supply and performance below expected levels. These events may impact our ability to conduct our businesses efficiently and lead to increased or unexpected costs, expenses or losses. Planned and unplanned outages at our power generation facilities may require us to purchase power at then-current market prices to satisfy our commitments or, in the alternative, pay penalties and damages for failure to satisfy them. Having to purchase power at then-market rates could also have a negative impact on the cost structure of our crypto asset mining operations.
Although we maintain customary insurance coverage for certain of these risks, no assurance can be given that such insurance coverage will be sufficient to compensate us fully in the event losses occur.
Changes in tax credits related to coal refuse power generation could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and future development efforts.
Our profitability depends, in part, on the continued availability of state renewable energy tax credits offered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through programs such as the one established under The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004 or the Coal Refuse Energy and Reclamation Tax Credit Program established by Act 84 of July 13, 2016. This tax credit program could be changed or eliminated as a result of state budget considerations or otherwise. Reduction or elimination of such credits could materially and adversely harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and future development efforts.
Land reclamation requirements may be burdensome and expensive.
We operate in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and local environmental authorities to reclaim coal refuse piles. Reclamation may include requirements to control dispersion of potentially deleterious effluents, treat ground and surface water to drinking water standards and reasonably re-establish pre-disturbance land forms and vegetation. In order to carry out reclamation obligations, we must allocate financial resources that might otherwise be spent on implementing our business plan. We have established reserves for our reclamation obligations, but these reserves may not be adequate. If the costs associated with our reclamation work are higher than we anticipate, our financial position could be adversely affected.
Fluctuations in fuel costs could affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely on third party carriers for delivery of the coal refuse used at our plant. The price and supply of fuel is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events beyond our control, including among others, geopolitical developments, supply and demand for oil and gas, sanctions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regional production patterns. Because fuel is needed to deliver coal refuse to our facility, any future increases in shipping rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Competition in power markets may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flows and the market value of our assets.
We have numerous competitors in all aspects of our business, and additional competitors may enter the industry. New parties may offer wholesale electricity bundled with other products or at prices that are below our rates.
Other companies with which we compete may have greater liquidity, greater access to credit and other financial resources, lower cost structures, more effective risk management policies and procedures, greater ability to incur losses or greater flexibility in the timing of their sale of generation capacity and ancillary services than we do. Competitors may also have better access to subsidies or other out-of-market payments that put us at a competitive disadvantage.
Our competitors may be able to respond more quickly to new laws or regulations or emerging technologies, or to devote greater resources to marketing of wholesale power than we can. In addition, current and potential competitors may make strategic acquisitions or establish cooperative relationships among themselves or with third parties. Accordingly, it is possible that new competitors or alliances among current and new competitors may emerge and rapidly gain significant
market share. There can be no assurance that we will be able to compete successfully against current and future competitors, and any failure to do so would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.
Changes in technology may negatively impact the value of our power generation facility.
Research and development activities are ongoing in the industry to provide alternative and more efficient technologies to produce power. There are alternate technologies to supply electricity, most notably fuel cells, micro turbines, batteries, windmills and photovoltaic (solar) cells, the development of which has been expanded due to global climate change concerns. Research and development activities are ongoing to seek improvements in alternate technologies. It is possible that advances will reduce the cost of alternative generation to a level that is equal to or below that of certain central station production. Also, as new technologies are developed and become available, the quantity and pattern of electricity usage by customers could decline, with a corresponding decline in revenues derived by generators. These alternative energy sources could result in a decline to the dispatch and capacity factors of our plants. As a result of all of these factors, the value of our generation facilities could be significantly reduced.
Our results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected if energy market participants continue to construct additional generation facilities (i.e., new-build) or expand or enhance existing generation facilities despite relatively low power prices and such additional generation capacity results in a reduction in wholesale power prices.
Given the overall attractiveness of certain of the markets in which we operate, and certain tax benefits associated with renewable energy, among other matters, energy market participants have continued to construct new generation facilities (i.e., new-build) or invest in enhancements or expansions of existing generation facilities despite relatively low wholesale power prices. If this market dynamic continues, and/or if our crypto asset mining competitors begin to build or acquire their own power plants to fuel their crypto asset mining operations, our results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected if such additional generation capacity results in a cheaper supply of electricity to our crypto asset mining competitors.
We sell capacity, energy, and ancillary services to the wholesale power grid managed by PJM. Our business may be affected by state interference in the competitive wholesale marketplace.
We sell capacity, energy, and ancillary services to the wholesale power grid managed by PJM. The competitive wholesale marketplace may be impacted by out-of-market subsidies provided by states or state entities, including bailouts of uneconomic nuclear plants, imports of power from Canada, renewable mandates or subsidies, mandates to sell power below its cost of acquisition and associated costs, as well as out-of-market payments to new or existing generators. These out-of-market subsidies to existing or new generation undermine the competitive wholesale marketplace, which can lead to premature retirement of existing facilities, including those owned by us. If these measures continue, capacity and energy prices may be suppressed, and we may not be successful in our efforts to insulate the competitive market from this interference. Our wholesale power revenue may be materially impacted by rules or regulations that allow regulated utilities to participate in competitive wholesale markets or to own and operate rate-regulated facilities that provide capacity, energy and ancillary services that could be provided by competitive market participants.
Because our coal refuse power generation facility is a member of PJM, a regional transmission organization, we may be required to supply power to the grid at a time that is not optimal to our operations.
As a member of PJM, we are subject to the operations of PJM, and our coal refuse power generation facility is under dispatch control of PJM. PJM balances its participants’ power requirements with the power resources available to supply those requirements. Based on this evaluation of supply and demand, PJM schedules and dispatches available generating facilities throughout its region in a manner intended to meet the demand for energy in the most reliable and cost-effective manner. Thus we may be required to supply power to PJM, diverting capacity away from our mining operations, at a time that is not economical for our business strategy. To the extent we are required to supply power to PJM for a sustained period of time, we could experience unplanned and extended outages of our mining operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are required to obtain, and to comply with, government permits and approvals.
We are required to obtain, and to comply with, numerous permits and licenses from federal, state and local governmental agencies. The process of obtaining and renewing necessary permits and licenses can be lengthy and complex and can sometimes result in the establishment of conditions that make the project or activity for which the permit or license
was sought unprofitable or otherwise unattractive. In addition, such permits or licenses may be subject to denial, revocation or modification under various circumstances. Failure to obtain or comply with the conditions of permits or licenses, or failure to comply with applicable laws or regulations, may result in the delay or temporary suspension of our operations and electricity sales or the curtailment of our delivery of electricity to our customers and may subject us to penalties and other sanctions. Although various regulators routinely renew existing permits and licenses, renewal of our existing permits or licenses could be denied or jeopardized by various factors, including (i) failure to provide adequate financial assurance for closure, (ii) failure to comply with environmental, health and safety laws and regulations or permit conditions, (iii) local community, political or other opposition and (iv) executive, legislative or regulatory action.
Our inability to procure and comply with the permits and licenses required for our operations, or the cost to us of such procurement or compliance, could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, new environmental legislation or regulations, if enacted, or changed interpretations of existing laws, may cause activities at our facilities to need to be changed to avoid violating applicable laws and regulations or elicit claims that historical activities at our facilities violated applicable laws and regulations. In addition to the possible imposition of fines in the case of any such violations, we may be required to undertake significant capital investments and obtain additional operating permits or licenses, which could have a material adverse effect on us.
Operation of power generation facilities involves significant risks and hazards customary to the power industry that could have a material adverse effect on our revenues and results of operations, and we may not have adequate insurance to cover these risks and hazards. Our employees, contractors, customers and the general public may be exposed to a risk of injury due to the nature of our operations.
Power generation involves hazardous activities, including acquiring, transporting and unloading fuel, operating large pieces of equipment and delivering electricity to transmission and distribution systems, including the transmission lines that run from our power generation facility to our Bitcoin mining operations and operating the pods that house our miners at our power generation facilities. In addition to natural risks such as earthquake, flood, lightning, hurricane and wind, other human-made hazards, such as nuclear accidents, dam failure, gas or other explosions, mine area collapses, fire, structural collapse, machinery failure and other dangerous incidents are inherent risks in our operations. These and other hazards can cause significant personal injury or loss of life, severe damage to and destruction of property, plant, equipment, and transmission lines, contamination of, or damage to, the environment and suspension of operations. Further, our employees and contractors work in, and customers and the general public may be exposed to, potentially dangerous environments at or near our operations. As a result, employees, contractors, customers and the general public are at risk for serious injury, including loss of life.
The occurrence of any one of these events may result in us being named as a defendant in lawsuits asserting claims for substantial damages, including for environmental cleanup costs, personal injury and property damage and fines and/or penalties. We maintain an amount of insurance protection that we consider adequate, but we cannot provide any assurance that our insurance will be sufficient or effective under all circumstances and against all hazards or liabilities to which we may be subject and, even if we do have insurance coverage for a particular circumstance, we may be subject to a large deductible and maximum cap. A successful claim for which we are not fully insured could hurt our financial results and materially harm our financial condition. Further, due to rising insurance costs and changes in the insurance markets, we cannot provide any assurance that our insurance coverage will continue to be available at all or at rates or on terms similar to those presently available. Any losses not covered by insurance could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Adverse economic conditions could adversely affect our wholesale power business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Adverse economic conditions and declines in wholesale energy prices, partially resulting from adverse economic conditions, may impact the results of our operations. The breadth and depth of negative economic conditions may have a wide-ranging impact on the U.S. business environment, including our wholesale power businesses. In addition, adverse economic conditions also reduce the demand for energy commodities. Reduced demand from negative economic conditions continues to impact the key domestic wholesale energy markets we serve. The combination of lower demand for power and increased supply of natural gas has put downward price pressure on wholesale energy markets in general, further impacting our energy marketing results. In general, economic and commodity market conditions will continue to impact our unhedged future energy margins, liquidity, earnings growth and overall financial condition. In addition, adverse economic conditions, declines in wholesale energy prices, reduced demand for power and other factors may negatively impact the value of our securities and impact forecasted cash flows, which may require us to evaluate its goodwill and other long-lived assets for impairment. Any such impairment could have a material impact on our financial statements.
Our use of hedging instruments could impact our liquidity.
We use various hedging instruments, including forwards, futures, financial transmission rights, and options, to manage our power market price risks. These hedging instruments generally include collateral requirements that require us to deposit funds or post letters of credit with counterparties when a counterparty’s credit exposure to us is in excess of agreed upon credit limits. When commodity prices decrease to levels below the levels where we have hedged future costs, we may be required to use a material portion of our cash or liquidity facilities to cover these collateral requirements. Additionally, existing or new regulations related to the use of hedging instruments may impact our access to and use of hedging instruments.
Financial, Tax and Accounting-Related Risks
Future developments regarding the treatment of crypto assets for U.S. federal income and foreign tax purposes could adversely impact our business.
Due to the new and evolving nature of crypto assets and the absence of comprehensive legal guidance with respect to crypto asset products and transactions, many significant aspects of the U.S. federal income and foreign tax treatment of transactions involving crypto assets, such as Bitcoin, are uncertain, and it is unclear what guidance may be issued in the future on the treatment of crypto asset transactions, including mining, for U.S. federal income and foreign tax purposes. Current Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") guidance indicates that crypto assets such as Bitcoin should be treated and taxed as property, and that transactions involving the payment of crypto assets such as Bitcoin for goods and services should be treated as barter transactions. While this treatment creates a potential tax reporting requirement for circumstances in which a Bitcoin passes from one person to another, usually by means of Bitcoin transactions (including off-blockchain transactions), it preserves the right to apply capital gains (as opposed to ordinary income) treatment to those transactions generally.
There can be no assurance that the IRS or other foreign tax authority will not alter its existing position with respect to crypto assets in the future or that a court would uphold the treatment of Bitcoin or other crypto assets as property, rather than currency. Any such alteration of existing IRS and foreign tax authority positions or additional guidance regarding crypto asset products and transactions could result in adverse tax consequences for holders of digital assets and could have an adverse effect on the value of crypto assets and the broader crypto assets markets. Future technological and operational developments that may arise with respect to crypto assets may increase the uncertainty of the treatment of crypto assets for U.S. federal income and foreign tax purposes. The uncertainty regarding the tax treatment of crypto asset transactions, as well as the potential promulgation of new U.S. federal income, state or foreign tax laws or guidance relating to crypto asset transactions, or changes to existing laws or guidance, could adversely impact the price of Bitcoin or other crypto assets, our business and the trading price of our Class A common stock.
Changes to applicable U.S. tax laws and regulations or exposure to additional income tax liabilities could affect our and Stronghold LLC’s business and future profitability.
We have no material assets other than our equity interests in Stronghold LLC, which holds, directly or indirectly, all of the operating assets of our business. Stronghold LLC generally is not subject to U.S. federal income tax, but may be subject to certain U.S. state and local and non-U.S. taxes. We are a U.S. corporation that is subject to U.S. corporate income tax on our worldwide operations, including our share of income of Stronghold LLC. Moreover, our operations and customers are located in the United States, and as a result, we and Stronghold LLC are subject to various and evolving U.S. federal, state and local taxes. New U.S. laws and policy relating to taxes may have an adverse effect on us and our business and future profitability.
U.S. federal, state and local tax laws, policies, statutes, rules, regulations or ordinances could be interpreted, changed, modified or applied adversely to us or Stronghold LLC, in each case, possibly with retroactive effect, and may have an adverse effect on our business and future profitability. For example, several tax proposals have been set forth that would, if enacted, make significant changes to U.S. tax laws. Such proposals include an increase in the U.S. income tax rate applicable to corporations (such as us) from 21%, the imposition of a minimum tax on book income for certain corporations and the imposition of an excise tax on certain corporate stock repurchases that would be borne by the corporation repurchasing such stock. The U.S. Congress may consider, and could include, some or all of these proposals in connection with tax reform that may be undertaken. It is unclear whether these or similar changes will be enacted and, if enacted, how soon any such changes could take effect. The passage of any legislation as a result of these proposals and other similar changes in U.S. federal income tax laws could adversely affect our or Stronghold LLC’s business and future profitability.
In addition, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (the “IIJA”), enacted November 15, 2021, contains, among other things, an expanded definition of the term “broker” for certain tax reporting obligations that could require cryptocurrency miners, including us, to provide to the IRS information relating to cryptocurrency transactions that cryptocurrency miners, including us, generally do not, and may not be able to, obtain, potentially rendering compliance impossible. Generally, the cryptocurrency provisions contained in the IIJA would apply to digital transactions beginning in 2023.
In the event our business expands internationally or domestically, including to jurisdictions in which tax laws may not be favorable, our and Stronghold LLC’s obligations may change or fluctuate, become significantly more complex or become subject to greater risk of examination by taxing authorities, any of which could adversely affect our or Stronghold LLC’s after-tax profitability and financial results.
In the event our operating business expands domestically or internationally, our and Stronghold LLC’s effective tax rates may fluctuate widely in the future. Future effective tax rates could be affected by operating losses in jurisdictions where no tax benefit can be recorded under U.S. GAAP, changes in deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in tax laws. Additionally, we may be subject to tax on more than one-hundred percent of our income and Stronghold LLC may be subject to tax on more than one-hundred percent of its income as a result of such income being subject to tax in multiple state, local or non-U.S. jurisdictions. Factors that could materially adversely affect our and Stronghold LLC’s future effective tax rates include, but are not limited to: (a) changes in tax laws or the regulatory environment, (b) changes in accounting and tax standards or practices, (c) changes in the composition of operating income by tax jurisdiction and (d) pre-tax operating results of our business.
Additionally, we and Stronghold LLC may be subject to significant income, withholding and other tax obligations in the United States and may become subject to taxation in numerous additional state, local and non-U.S. jurisdictions with respect to income, operations and subsidiaries related to those jurisdictions. Our and Stronghold LLC’s after-tax profitability and financial results could be subject to volatility or be affected by numerous factors, including (a) the availability of tax deductions, credits, exemptions, refunds and other benefits to reduce tax liabilities, (b) changes in the valuation of deferred tax assets and liabilities, if any, (c) the expected timing and amount of the release of any tax valuation allowances, (d) the tax treatment of stock-based compensation, (e) changes in the relative amount of earnings subject to tax in the various jurisdictions, (f) the potential business expansion into, or otherwise becoming subject to tax in, additional jurisdictions, (g) changes to existing intercompany structure (and any costs related thereto) and business operations, (h) the extent of intercompany transactions and the extent to which taxing authorities in relevant jurisdictions respect those intercompany transactions and (i) the ability to structure business operations in an efficient and competitive manner. Outcomes from audits or examinations by taxing authorities could have an adverse effect on our or Stronghold LLC’s after-tax profitability and financial condition. Additionally, the IRS and several foreign tax authorities have increasingly focused attention on intercompany transfer pricing with respect to sales of products and services and the use of intangibles. Tax authorities could disagree with our or Stronghold LLC’s intercompany charges, cross-jurisdictional transfer pricing or other matters and assess additional taxes. If we or Stronghold LLC, as applicable, do not prevail in any such disagreements, our profitability may be adversely affected.
Our or Stronghold LLC’s after-tax profitability and financial results may also be adversely affected by changes in relevant tax laws and tax rates, treaties, regulations, administrative practices and principles, judicial decisions and interpretations thereof, in each case, possibly with retroactive effect.
Risks Relating to Us and our Organizational Structure
Q Power LLC ("Q Power") owns the majority of our voting stock and will have the right to appoint a majority of our board members, and its interests may conflict with those of other stockholders.
Q Power owns the majority of our voting stock and appointed the majority of our Board. Q Power and its affiliates own approximately 56.1% of our voting stock. As a result, we are a controlled company within the meaning of Nasdaq corporate governance standards and Q Power will be able to substantially influence matters requiring our stockholder or Board approval, including the election of directors, approval of any potential acquisition of us, changes to our organizational documents and significant corporate transactions, and certain decisions we make as the managing member of Stronghold LLC. In particular, for so long as Q Power continues to own a majority of our voting stock, Q Power will be able to cause or prevent a change of control of us or a change in the composition of our Board and could preclude any unsolicited acquisition of us. This concentration of ownership makes it unlikely that any other holder or group of holders of our common stock or preferred stock will be able to affect the way we and Stronghold LLC are managed or the direction of our business. Furthermore, the concentration of ownership could deprive you of an opportunity to receive a premium for
your shares of Class A common stock as part of a sale of us and ultimately might affect the market price of our Class A common stock. The interests of Q Power with respect to matters potentially or actually involving or affecting us, such as future acquisitions, financings and other corporate opportunities and attempts to acquire us, may conflict with the interests of our other stockholders.
For example, Q Power may have different tax positions from us, especially in light of the TRA, that could influence its decisions regarding whether and when to support the disposition of assets, the incurrence or refinancing of new or existing indebtedness, the timing or amount of distributions by Stronghold LLC, or the termination of the TRA and acceleration of our obligations thereunder. In addition, the determination of future tax reporting positions, the structuring of future transactions and the handling of any challenge by any taxing authority to our tax reporting positions may take into consideration tax or other considerations of Q Power, including the effect of such positions on our obligations under the TRA and with respect to the amount of tax distributions, which may differ from the considerations of us or other stockholders. These decisions could adversely affect our liquidity or financial condition.
We are a holding company whose sole material asset is our equity interests in Stronghold LLC; accordingly, we will be dependent upon distributions from Stronghold LLC to pay taxes, make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement and cover our corporate and other overhead expenses.
We are a holding company and we have no material assets other than our equity interests in Stronghold LLC and no independent means of generating revenue or cash flow. To the extent Stronghold LLC has available cash and subject to the terms of any current or future debt instruments, the Fourth Amended and Restated Limited Liability Company Agreement of Stronghold LLC, as amended from time to time (the "Stronghold LLC Agreement") requires Stronghold LLC to make pro rata cash distributions to holders of Class A common units of Stronghold LLC ("Stronghold LLC Units"), in an amount sufficient to allow us to pay our taxes and to make payments under the TRA. We generally expect Stronghold LLC to fund such distributions out of available cash, and if payments under the TRA are accelerated, we generally expect to fund such accelerated payment out of the proceeds of the change of control transaction giving rise to such acceleration. When Stronghold LLC makes regular distributions, the holders of Stronghold LLC Units are entitled to receive proportionate distributions based on their interests in Stronghold LLC at the time of such distribution. In addition, the Stronghold LLC Agreement requires Stronghold LLC to make non-pro rata payments to us to reimburse us for our corporate and other overhead expenses, which payments are not treated as distributions under the Stronghold LLC Agreement. To the extent that we need funds and Stronghold LLC or its subsidiaries do not have sufficient funds, or are restricted from making such distributions or payments under applicable law or regulation or under the terms of any current or future financing arrangements, or are otherwise unable to provide such funds, our liquidity and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.
Moreover, because we will have no independent means of generating revenue, our ability to make tax payments and payments under the TRA is dependent on the ability of Stronghold LLC to make distributions to us in an amount sufficient to cover our tax obligations and obligations under the TRA. This ability, in turn, may depend on the ability of Stronghold LLC’s subsidiaries to make distributions to it. The ability of Stronghold LLC, its subsidiaries and other entities in which it directly or indirectly holds an equity interest to make such distributions will be subject to, among other things, (i) the applicable provisions of Delaware law (or other applicable jurisdiction) that may limit the amount of funds available for distribution and (ii) restrictions in relevant debt instruments issued by Stronghold LLC or its subsidiaries and other entities in which it directly or indirectly holds an equity interest. To the extent that we are unable to make payments under the TRA for any reason, such payments will be deferred and will accrue interest until paid.
We are required to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement for certain tax benefits that we may receive or be deemed to receive, and the amounts of such payments could be significant.
We entered into a TRA on April 1, 2021 with Q Power and an agent named by Q Power. This agreement generally provides for the payment by us to Q Power (or its permitted assignees) of 85% of the net cash savings, if any, in U.S. federal, state and local income tax and franchise tax (computed using simplifying assumptions to address the impact of state and local taxes) that we actually realize (or are deemed to realize in certain circumstances) as a result of certain increases in tax basis available to us as a result of this or prior offerings, the acquisition of Stronghold LLC Units pursuant to an exercise of the Redemption Right (as defined herein) or the Call Right (as defined herein) and payments under the TRA, and certain benefits attributable to imputed interest. We will retain the remaining net cash savings, if any.
The term of the TRA commenced on April 1, 2021 and will continue until all tax benefits that are subject to the TRA have been utilized or expired, and all required payments are made, unless we exercise our right to terminate the TRA (or the TRA is terminated due to other circumstances, including our breach of a material obligation thereunder or certain
mergers or other changes of control), in which case we will make the termination payment specified in the TRA. In addition, payments we make under the TRA will be increased by any interest accrued from the due date (without extensions) of the corresponding tax return. In the event that the TRA is not terminated early, the payments under the TRA are anticipated to continue for several years after the date of the last redemption of Stronghold LLC Units.
The payment obligations under the TRA are our obligations and not obligations of Stronghold LLC, and we expect that the payments we will be required to make under the TRA will be substantial. Estimating the amount and timing of our realization of tax benefits subject to the TRA is by its nature imprecise. The actual increases in tax basis covered by the TRA, as well as the amount and timing of our ability to use any deductions (or decreases in gain or increases in loss) arising from such increases in tax basis, are dependent upon future events, including but not limited to the timing of redemptions of Stronghold LLC Units, the value of our common stock at the time of each redemption, the extent to which such redemptions are taxable transactions, the amount of the redeeming member’s tax basis in its Stronghold LLC Units at the time of the relevant redemption, the depreciation and amortization periods that apply to the increase in tax basis, the amount, character, and timing of taxable income we generate in the future, the timing and amount of any earlier payments that we may have made under the TRA, the U.S. federal income tax rate then applicable, and the portion of our payments under the TRA that constitute imputed interest or give rise to depreciable or amortizable tax basis. Accordingly, estimating the amount and timing of payments that may become due under the TRA is also by its nature imprecise. For purposes of the TRA, net cash savings in tax generally are calculated by comparing our actual tax liability (determined by using the actual applicable U.S. federal income tax rate and an assumed combined state and local income tax rate) to the amount we would have been required to pay had we not been able to utilize any of the tax benefits subject to the TRA. Thus, the amount and timing of any payments under the TRA are also dependent upon significant future events, including those noted above in respect of estimating the amount and timing of our realization of tax benefits. Any distributions made by Stronghold LLC to us to enable us to make payments under the TRA, as well as any corresponding pro rata distributions made to the other holders of Stronghold LLC Units, could have an adverse impact on our liquidity.
Payments under the TRA are not conditioned upon a holder of rights under the TRA having an ownership interest in us or Stronghold LLC. In addition, certain rights of the holders of Stronghold LLC Units (including the right to receive payments) under the TRA are transferable in connection with transfers permitted under the Stronghold LLC Agreement of the corresponding Stronghold LLC Units or after the corresponding Stronghold LLC Units have been acquired pursuant to the Redemption Right or Call Right. For additional information regarding the TRA, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operation - Tax Receivable Agreement" herein.
In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, we realize in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement.
If we experience a change of control (as defined under the TRA, including certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations), or the TRA terminates early (at our election or as a result of our breach), we would be required to make an immediate payment equal to the present value of the future payments we would be required to make if we realized deemed tax savings pursuant to the TRA (determined by applying a discount rate equal to one-year LIBOR (or an agreed successor rate, if applicable) plus 100 basis points, and using numerous assumptions to determine deemed tax savings) and such early termination payment is expected to be substantial and may exceed the future tax benefits realized by Stronghold Inc. The calculation of such future payments will be based upon certain assumptions and deemed events set forth in the TRA, including (i) that we have sufficient taxable income on a current basis to fully utilize the tax benefits covered by the TRA, and (ii) that any Stronghold LLC Units (other than those held by us) outstanding on the termination date or change of control date, as applicable, are deemed to be redeemed on such date. Any early termination payment may be made significantly in advance of, and may materially exceed, the actual realization, if any, of the future tax benefits to which the early termination payment relates.
If we experience a change of control (as defined under the TRA) or the TRA otherwise terminates early (at our election or as a result of our breach), our obligations under the TRA could have a substantial negative impact on our liquidity and could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing certain mergers, asset sales, or other forms of business combinations or changes of control. If our obligation to make payments under the TRA is accelerated as a result of a change of control, we generally expect the accelerated payments due under the TRA to be funded out of the proceeds of the change of control transaction giving rise to such acceleration. However, we may be required to fund such payment from other sources, and as a result, any early termination of the TRA could have a substantial negative impact on our liquidity. We do not currently expect to cause an acceleration due to our breach, and we do not currently expect that we will elect to terminate the TRA early, except in cases where the early termination payment would not be material. There can be no assurance that we will be able to meet our obligations under the TRA.
Please read “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Tax Receivable Agreement" herein.
If our payment obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement are accelerated upon certain mergers, other forms of business combinations or other changes of control, the consideration payable to holders of our common stock could be substantially reduced.
If we experience a change of control (as defined under the TRA, which includes certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations, then our obligations under the TRA would be based upon certain assumptions and deemed events set forth in the TRA, and in such situations, payments under the TRA may be significantly in advance of, and may materially exceed, the actual realization, if any, of the future tax benefits to which the payment relates. As a result of our payment obligations under the TRA, holders of our common stock could receive substantially less consideration in connection with a change of control transaction than they would receive in the absence of such obligation. Further, our payment obligations under the TRA are not conditioned upon holders of Stronghold LLC Units having a continued interest in us or Stronghold LLC. Accordingly, the interests of the holders of Stronghold LLC Units may conflict with those of the holders of our common stock.
We will not be reimbursed for any payments made under the Tax Receivable Agreement in the event that any tax benefits are subsequently disallowed.
Payments under the TRA will be based on the tax reporting positions that we will determine, and the IRS or another tax authority may challenge all or part of the tax basis increases upon which payment under the TRA are based, as well as other related tax positions we take, and a court could sustain such challenge. The holders of Stronghold LLC Units will not reimburse us for any payments previously made under the TRA if any tax benefits that have given rise to payments under the TRA are subsequently disallowed, except that excess payments made to any holder of Stronghold LLC Units will be netted against future payments that would otherwise be made to such holder of Stronghold LLC Units, if any, after our determination of such excess (which determination may be made a number of years following the initial payment and after future payments have been made). As a result, in such circumstances, we could make payments that are much greater than our actual cash tax savings, if any, and may not be able to recoup those payments, which could materially adversely affect our liquidity.
If Stronghold LLC were to become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we and Stronghold LLC might be subject to potentially significant tax inefficiencies, and we would not be able to recover payments previously made by us under the Tax Receivable Agreement even if the corresponding tax benefits were subsequently determined to have been unavailable due to such status.
We intend to operate such that Stronghold LLC does not become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. A “publicly traded partnership” is a partnership the interests of which are traded on an established securities market or are readily tradable on a secondary market or the substantial equivalent thereof. Under certain circumstances, redemptions of Stronghold LLC Units pursuant to the Redemption Right (or the Call Right) or other transfers of Stronghold LLC Units could cause Stronghold LLC to be treated as a publicly traded partnership. Applicable U.S. Treasury regulations provide for certain safe harbors from treatment as a publicly traded partnership, and we intend to operate such that redemptions or other transfers of Stronghold LLC Units qualify for one or more such safe harbors. For example, we intend to limit the number of holders of Stronghold LLC Units, and the Stronghold LLC Agreement provides for limitations on the ability of holders of Stronghold LLC Units to transfer their Stronghold LLC Units and provides us, as the managing member of Stronghold LLC, with the right to impose restrictions (in addition to those already in place) on the ability of holders of Stronghold LLC Units to redeem their Stronghold LLC Units pursuant to the Redemption Right (or Call Right) to the extent we believe it is necessary to ensure that Stronghold LLC will continue to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
If Stronghold LLC were to become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, significant tax inefficiencies might result for us and Stronghold LLC, including as a result of our inability to file a consolidated U.S. federal income tax return with Stronghold LLC. In such case, we might not be able to realize tax benefits covered under the TRA, and we would not be able to recover any payments we previously made under the TRA, even if the corresponding tax benefits (including any claimed increase in the tax basis of Stronghold LLC’s assets) were subsequently determined to have been unavailable.
Unanticipated changes in effective tax rates or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We may be subject to taxes by the U.S. federal, state, and local tax authorities and our future effective tax rates could be subject to volatility or adversely affected by a number of factors, including:
•changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities;
•expected timing and amount of the release of any tax valuation allowances;
•tax effects of stock-based compensation; or
•changes in tax laws, regulations or interpretations thereof.
In addition, we may be subject to audits of our income, sales and other transaction taxes by U.S. federal, state, and local taxing authorities. Outcomes from these audits could have an adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.
We are a “controlled company” within the meaning of Nasdaq rules and, as a result, qualify for exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements. As a result, you do not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are not exempt from such corporate governance requirements.
Since completion of the IPO, Q Power and its affiliates continue to collectively hold more than 50% of the voting power for the election of directors of our company. As a result, we are a controlled company within the meaning of Nasdaq corporate governance standards. Under Nasdaq rules, a company of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, company or group of persons acting together is a controlled company and may elect not to comply with certain Nasdaq corporate governance requirements, including the requirements that:
•a majority of the Board consist of independent directors under Nasdaq rules;
•the nominating and governance committee be composed entirely of independent directors with a written charter addressing the committee’s purpose and responsibilities; and
•the compensation committee be composed entirely of independent directors with a written charter addressing the committee’s purpose and responsibilities.
These requirements will not apply to us as long as we remain a controlled company. Following the IPO, we may utilize some or all of these exemptions. Accordingly, you may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of Nasdaq. See "—Risks Relating to Us and our Organizational Structure" herein.
We have identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls.
As a public company, we are required to maintain internal control over financial reporting and to report any material weaknesses in those internal controls. For example, we are required to perform system and process evaluation and testing of our internal control over financial reporting to allow management to report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act"). We are in the process of designing, implementing, and testing internal control over financial reporting required to comply with this obligation. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that a reasonable possibility exists that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements could not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
During the course of preparing for the IPO, we and our independent registered public accounting firm identified a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting. We have concluded that our internal control over financial reporting did not result in the proper classification of our outstanding shares of Class V common stock as mezzanine equity which, due to its impact on our consolidated financial statements, we determined to be a material weakness. We identified a material weakness in our controls over the accounting for mezzanine and permanent equity and complex financial instruments. The controls to evaluate the accounting for complex financial instruments, such as mezzanine and permanent equity, did not operate effectively to appropriately apply the provisions of ASC 480-10-10-S99-3A. This material weakness
resulted in the failure to prevent a material error in the accounting for mezzanine and permanent equity and the resulting restatement of our previously issued financial statements. The reason for the reclassification from permanent equity to mezzanine equity relates to the fact that the Class V common stock, together with the corresponding Class A common units of Stronghold LLC, held by Q Power can be redeemed by Q Power and, in response to a redemption request from Q Power, can be repurchased by the Company in exchange for either shares of the Company’s Class A common stock or, at the Company’s election, cash of equivalent value.
In addition, during our year-end audit, we and our independent registered public accounting firm also identified deficiencies that constitute an additional material weakness in internal control over financial reporting as of and for the year ended December 31, 2021. There was a lack of cohesion between departments within our organization, reduced discipline in the accuracy of recording transactions, and a lack of review and reconciliation in areas of the accounting function. Our auditors concluded that the Company’s internal controls over financial reporting did not and could not timely detect material misstatements.
Remediation of material weaknesses generally requires making changes to how controls are designed and implemented and then adhering to those changes for a sufficient period of time such that the effectiveness of those changes is demonstrated with an appropriate amount of consistency. In response to the material weaknesses, we implemented, and are continuing to implement, measures designed to improve our internal control over financial reporting. These measures include formalizing our processes and internal control documentation, strengthening supervisory reviews by our financial management, hiring additional qualified accounting and finance personnel, and engaging financial consultants to enable the implementation of internal control over financial reporting. Additionally, we are implementing certain accounting systems to upgrade our existing systems and to automate certain manual processes. The measures we are implementing are subject to continued management review supported by confirmation and testing, as well as audit committee oversight. Management remains committed to the implementation of remediation efforts to address the material weakness. We will continue to implement measures to remedy our internal control deficiencies, though there can be no assurance that our efforts will ultimately have the intended effects.
We are working to enhance our internal controls, processes and related documentation necessary to remediate our material weakness and to perform the evaluation needed to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. During the evaluation and testing process, if we identify one or more material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting, such as the one we identified as described above, we may be unable to conclude that our internal controls are effective. The effectiveness of our controls and procedures may be limited by a variety of factors, including:
•faulty human judgment and simple errors, omissions or mistakes;
•fraudulent action of an individual or collusion of two or more people;
•inappropriate management override of procedures; and
•the possibility that any enhancements to controls and procedures may still not be adequate to assure timely and accurate financial control.
If we fail to remediate the material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting, or experience any additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to develop or maintain an effective system of internal controls in the future, we may not be able to accurately report our financial condition or results of operations, which may adversely affect investor confidence in us and, as a result, the value of our Class A common stock.
Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports, prevent fraud and operate successfully as a public company. If we cannot provide reliable financial reports or prevent fraud, our reputation and operating results would be harmed. If we fail to remediate the material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting or identify any new material weaknesses in the future, it could limit our ability to prevent or detect a misstatement of our accounts or disclosures that could result in a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements. In such case, we may be unable to maintain compliance with securities law requirements regarding timely filing of periodic reports in addition to applicable stock exchange listing requirements, investors may lose confidence in our financial reporting and the prices of our securities may decline as a result. We cannot assure you that the measures we have taken to date, or any measures we may take in the future, will be sufficient to avoid potential future material weaknesses.
As a result of being a public company, we are required, under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to furnish a report by management on, among other things, the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting beginning in the year following our first annual report required to be filed with the SEC. This assessment will need to include disclosure of any material weaknesses identified by our management in our internal control over financial reporting. Additionally, when we cease to be an “emerging growth company” under the federal securities laws, our independent
registered public accounting firm may be required to express an opinion on the effectiveness of our internal controls. If we are unable to confirm that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to express an unqualified opinion on the effectiveness of our internal controls, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, which could cause the price of our Class A common stock to decline.
Certain of our executive officers and directors have significant duties with, and spend significant time serving, entities that may compete with us in seeking business opportunities and, accordingly, may have conflicts of interest in allocating time or pursuing business opportunities.
Certain of our executive officers and directors, who are responsible for managing the direction of our operations, hold positions of responsibility with other entities (including affiliated entities). These executive officers and directors may become aware of business opportunities that may be appropriate for presentation to us as well as to the other entities with which they are or may become affiliated. Due to these existing and potential future affiliations, they may present potential business opportunities to other entities prior to presenting them to us, which could cause additional conflicts of interest. They may also decide that certain opportunities are more appropriate for other entities with which they are affiliated, and as a result, they may elect not to present those opportunities to us. These conflicts may not be resolved in our favor. For additional discussion of our management’s business affiliations and the potential conflicts of interest of which our stockholders should be aware, see “Certain Relationships and Related Party Transactions” in the Final Prospectus.
Our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws, as well as Delaware law, contains provisions that could discourage acquisition bids or merger proposals, which may adversely affect the market price of our Class A common stock and could deprive our investors of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares.
Our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation authorizes our board of directors to issue preferred stock without stockholder approval in one or more series, designate the number of shares constituting any series, and fix the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions thereof, including dividend rights, voting rights, rights and terms of redemption, redemption price or prices and liquidation preferences of such series. If our board of directors elects to issue preferred stock, it could be more difficult for a third party to acquire us. In addition, some provisions of our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation and bylaws could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire control of us, even if the change of control would be beneficial to our stockholders, some of which will not apply until Q Power and its affiliates no longer collectively beneficially own 40% or more of the combined voting stock, which event we refer to as the “Trigger Event.” These provisions include:
•establishing advance notice procedures with regard to stockholder proposals relating to the nomination of candidates for election as directors or new business to be brought before meetings of our stockholders;
•providing that the authorized number of directors may be changed only by resolution of the board of directors;
•providing that all vacancies, including newly created directorships, may, except as otherwise required by law or, if applicable, the rights of holders of a series of preferred stock, only be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of directors then in office, even if less than a quorum;
•providing that, after the Trigger Event, any action required or permitted to be taken by our stockholders must be taken at a duly held annual or special meeting of stockholders and may not be taken by any consent in writing in lieu of a meeting of such stockholders, subject to the rights of holders of any series of preferred stock with respect to such series of preferred stock (prior to the Trigger Event, such actions may be taken without a meeting by written consent of holders of the outstanding stock having not less than the minimum number of votes that would be necessary to authorize such action at a meeting);
•providing that the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66 2/3% of the outstanding shares of common stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, acting at a meeting of the stockholders or by written consent (if permitted), subject to the rights of the holders of any series of preferred stock, shall be required to remove any or all of the directors from office, and such removal may be with or without “cause”;
•providing that our amended and restated certificate of incorporation may only be amended by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 50% of our then outstanding stock entitled to voted thereon, voting together as a single class;
•permitting special meetings of our stockholders to be called only by our Chief Executive Officer, the chairman (or any co-chairman) of our board of directors, or by a majority of the board of directors;
•prohibiting cumulative voting in the election of directors;
•providing that our bylaws can be amended by the board of directors or stockholders of 66 2/3% of the voting power of the then-outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote thereon.
See “Description of the Registrant’s Securities” filed as Exhibit 4.1 to this Form 10-K.
In addition, certain change of control events have the effect of accelerating the payment due under the TRA, which could be substantial and accordingly serve as a disincentive to a potential acquirer of our company. Please see “Risks Relating to Us and our Organizational Structure” herein. In certain cases, payments under the TRA may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, we realize in respect of the tax attributes subject to the TRA.
We may issue preferred stock whose terms could adversely affect the voting power or value of our Class A common stock.
Our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation authorizes us to issue, without the approval of our stockholders, one or more classes or series of preferred stock having such designations, preferences, limitations and relative rights, including preferences over our Class A common stock respecting dividends and distributions, as our board of directors may determine. The terms of one or more classes or series of preferred stock could adversely impact the voting power or value of our Class A common stock. For example, we might grant holders of preferred stock the right to elect some number of our directors in all events or on the happening of specified events or the right to veto specified transactions. Similarly, the repurchase or redemption rights or liquidation preferences we might assign to holders of preferred stock could affect the residual value of the Class A common stock.
For as long as we are an emerging growth company, we will not be required to comply with certain reporting requirements, including those relating to accounting standards and disclosure about our executive compensation, that apply to other public companies.
We are classified as an “emerging growth company” ("EGC") under the JOBS Act. For as long as we are an EGC, which may be up to five full fiscal years, unlike other public companies, we will not be required to, among other things: (i) provide an auditor’s attestation report on management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our system of internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act; (ii) comply with any new requirements adopted by the PCAOB requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report in which the auditor would be required to provide additional information about the audit and the financial statements of the issuer; (iii) provide certain disclosures regarding executive compensation required of larger public companies; or (iv) hold nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation. We will remain an EGC for up to five years, although we will lose that status sooner if we have more than $1.07 billion of revenues in a fiscal year, have more than $700.0 million in market value of our Class A common stock held by non-affiliates, or issue more than $1.0 billion of non-convertible debt over a three-year period.
To the extent that we rely on any of the exemptions available to EGCs, you will receive less information about our executive compensation and internal control over financial reporting than issuers that are not EGCs. Additionally, we intend to take advantage of the extended transition periods for the adoption of new or revised financial accounting standards under the JOBS Act until we are no longer an EGC. Our election to use the transition periods permitted by this election may make it difficult to compare our financial statements to those of non-EGCs and other EGCs that have opted out of the extended transition periods permitted under the JOBS Act and who will comply with new or revised financial accounting standards.
Additionally, we are a “smaller reporting company” as defined in Item 10(f)(1) of Regulation S-K. Smaller reporting companies may take advantage of certain reduced disclosure obligations, including, among other things, providing only two years of audited financial statements. We will remain a smaller reporting company until the last day of the fiscal year in which (1) the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates equals or exceeds $250 million as of the end of that fiscal year’s second fiscal quarter, and (2) our annual revenues exceeded $100 million during such completed fiscal year and the market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the end of that fiscal year’s second fiscal quarter. To the extent we take advantage of such reduced disclosure obligations, it may also make comparison of our financial statements with other public companies difficult or impossible.
If some investors find our Class A common stock to be less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our Class A common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our Class A common stock or if our operating results do not meet their expectations, our stock price could decline.
The trading market for our Class A common stock will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline. Moreover, if one or more of the analysts who cover our company downgrades our Class A common stock or if our operating results do not meet their expectations, our stock price could decline.
Our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents.
Our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, be the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, employees or agents to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim against us or any director or officer or other employee of ours arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws, or (iv) any action asserting a claim against us or any director or officer or other employee of ours that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each such case subject to such Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the exclusive forum provision does not apply to suits brought to enforce any liability or duty created by the Exchange Act, the Securities Act, or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock will be deemed to have notice of, and consented to, the provisions of our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation described herein. This choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and such persons. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our second amended and restated certificate of incorporation inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
The following table provides certain summary information about the principal facilities owned or leased by the Company as of December 31, 2021. Our corporate headquarters, which we lease, is located at 595 Madison Avenue, 28th Floor, New York NY, 10022. The Company believes that its facilities and equipment are generally in good condition and that, together with scheduled capital improvements, they are adequate for its present and immediately projected needs.
Power Generation and Crypto Mining
Power Generation and Crypto Mining
Waste Coal Site
New York, NY
|3,000 Sq. Ft.|
7,000 Sq. Ft.
|New Castle, PA||Storage||All||52,602 Sq. Ft.|
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Due to the nature of our business, we are, from time to time, involved in other routine litigation or subject to disputes or claims related to our business activities, including workers’ compensation claims and employment related disputes. In the opinion of our management, none of the pending litigation, disputes or claims against us, if decided adversely, will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flows or results of operations. For more information, please reference “Note 8 – Commitments and Contingencies” in the notes to our financial statements.
The following are pending:
McClymonds Supply & Transit Company, Inc. and DTA, L.P. vs. Scrubgrass Generating Company, L.P.
On January 31, 2020, McClymonds Supply and Transit Company, Inc. (“McClymonds”) made a Demand for Arbitration, as required by the terms of the Transportation Agreement between it and the Scrubgrass dated April 8, 2013 (the “Agreement”). In its demand, McClymonds alleged damages in the amount of $5,042,350.40 for failure to pay McClymonds for services. On February 18, 2020, Scrubgrass submitted its answering statement denying the claim of McClymonds in its entirety. On March 31, 2020, Scrubgrass submitted its counterclaim against McClymonds in the amount of $6,747,328 as the result of McClymonds’ failure to deliver fuel as required under the terms of the Agreement. Hearings were held from January 31, 2022 to February 3, 2022. Proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law were submitted and a decision will be rendered. Management believes that this litigation is unlikely to have a material adverse effect on the Company's consolidated financial position or results of operations.
Allegheny Mineral Corporation v. Scrubgrass Generating Company, L.P., Butler County Court of Common Pleas, No. AD 19-11039
On February 27, 2017, Allegheny Mineral offered to sell to Scrubgrass “high calcium limestone” for use in its plant. Scrubgrass accepted. In November 2019, Allegheny Mineral filed suit against Scrubgrass seeking payment of approximately $1,200,000 in outstanding invoices. In response, Scrubgrass filed counterclaims against Allegheny Mineral asserting breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties, and fraud in the amount of $1,300,000. The case was unsuccessfully mediated in August, 2020. At this time, there is a discovery deadline currently scheduled for June 30, 2022. Management believes that this litigation is unlikely to have a material adverse effect on the Company's consolidated financial position or results of operations.
PJM Notice of Breach
On November 19, 2021, Scrubgrass received a notice of breach from PJM Interconnection, LLC alleging that Scrubgrass breached Interconnection Service Agreement – No. 1795 (the “ISA”) by failing to provide advance notice to PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. and Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, LLC (“MAIT”) pursuant to ISA, Appendix 2, section 3, of modifications made to the Scrubgrass Plant. On December 16, 2021, Scrubgrass responded to the notice of breach denying the breach. On January 7, 2022, Scrubgrass participated in a hearing with representatives from PJM regarding the notice of breach and Scrubgrass continues to work with PJM regarding the dispute, including conducting a necessary study agreement with respect to the Scrubgrass Plant. On January 20, 2022, we sent PJM a letter regarding the installation of a resistive computational load bank at the Panther Creek Plant. On March 1, 2022, we executed a necessary study agreement with respect to the Panther Creek Plant. While a reduction in our capacity payments from PJM is likely to occur, we do not believe the PJM notice of breach or the Panther Creek necessary study agreement will have a material adverse effect on our reported financial position or results of operations.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Information About Our Executive Officers and Directors
The following table sets forth certain information with respect to our executive officers and directors:
Gregory A. Beard
Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Chairman of the Board
William B. Spence
Co-Chairman of the Board
Ricardo R. A. Larroudé
Chief Financial Officer
Richard J. Shaffer
Senior Vice President - Asset Manager
Sarah P. James
Thomas J. Pacchia
Thomas R. Trowbridge, IV
Matthew J. Smith
Gregory A. Beard has served our Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Chairman of our Board of Directors (the “Board”) since March 2021. Mr. Beard was the Global Head of Natural Resources, a Senior Partner, Member of the Management Committee, and Senior Advisor at Apollo Global Management from 2010 to 2020. In such roles, Mr. Beard oversaw Apollo’s investment activities in the energy, metals and mining and agriculture sectors. Prior to Apollo, Mr. Beard was a senior Managing Director at Riverstone Holdings, an energy, power and infrastructure-focused private equity firm. He began his career as a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs, where he played an active role in energy-sector principal investment activities. The funds where Mr. Beard held these senior leadership positions have invested billions of dollars in natural resources related investments. During his career, Mr. Beard sourced and managed some of the most profitable deals in the energy private equity sector. Mr. Beard is a founding and managing member of Q Power. Additionally, he currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Beard Energy Transition Acquisition Corp. (the “Beard SPAC”), a special purpose acquisition company currently in registration. He also currently serves on the board of directors of Scrubgrass Reclamation Company, L.P. (f/k/a Scrubgrass Generating Company, L.P.) (“Scrubgrass LP”), the board of directors/advisors of Double Eagle Energy Holdings III, Skeena Resources Ltd., Andros Capital Partners LLC, and Parallaxes Capital, as well as the board of directors of The Conservation Fund, a non-profit focused on land conservation. He previously served on the boards of more than 25 public and private companies, including Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp, (now Fisker Inc., NYSE: FSR), Athlon Energy, Inc. (NYSE: ATHL), CDM Resource Management, Mariner Energy, Apex Energy, Caelus Energy, CSV Midstream, Double Eagle I / II, EP Energy Corporation, Jupiter Resources, Roundtable Energy, Talos Energy Inc. (NYSE: TALO), Pegasus Optimization, Northwoods Energy and Tumbleweed Royalty. Mr. Beard received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana. We believe Mr. Beard’s extensive background in the energy industry makes him well qualified to serve on our Board.
Ricardo R. A. Larroudé has served as our Chief Financial Officer since March 2021. Prior to that, in 2020, Mr. Larroudé was the General Manager of APFM Emerging Businesses division (a healthcare marketing company owned by General Atlantic and Silverlake), where he managed all non-core and international existing businesses and was responsible for the launch and acquisitions of new ventures. He joined APFM from Anheuser-Busch Inbev (a 3G Capital co-controlled company) where he lead the company’s global financial risk management operations (including capital structure, forex and commodity management) and other merger and acquisition related responsibilities from 2017 to 2020. Prior to being a senior operating executive, from 2010 to 2017, Mr. Larroudé served at Apollo Global Management where he primarily focused on energy, metals and mining and agriculture related investments. During his private equity career, Mr. Larroudé was responsible for executing multiple investments, managing portfolio companies, starting new businesses, evaluating and executing rollup opportunities and managing investment exits. He began his career as an Investment Banking Analyst at Lehman Brothers’ Global Communications and Media Group in 2003. Mr. Larroudé received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil.
Richard J. Shaffer has served as our Senior Vice President – Asset Manager since March 2021. Prior to that, Mr. Shaffer served as General Manager of the Scrubgrass Plant since March 2016. Mr. Shaffer has management responsibilities that include safety and environmental compliance, plant operations and maintenance, supply contracts, and compliance with PJM, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and National Electric Reliability Council (NERC). From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Shaffer was the Fuel and Environmental Manager for the Scrubgrass Plant. Mr. Shaffer started at the Scrubgrass Plant in 2003 as the Environmental Manager and was responsible for environmental compliance of the facility. Mr. Shaffer worked with the PADEP on several major permitting projects for the facility to give it both operational flexibility and to cause it to be a top emissions performer. Mr. Shaffer’s reputation earned him an appointment as an industry member to the PADEP Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee in 2015, an appointment he still holds. Prior to his employment at the Scrubgrass Plant, Mr. Shaffer worked for an environmental remediation and consulting company that provided remediation and service work to industry. Mr. Shaffer graduated from Thiel College with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science.
William B. Spence has served as Co-Chairman of our Board since March 2021. Mr. Spence has been digitally mining crypto assets since 2018 and has over 40 years of energy-related experience. Mr. Spence has been involved with coal refuse reclamation since 1993. He began his career as an engineer with Mobil Oil Corporation in Denver, Colorado. Mr. Spence became a project manager with Dr Otto Gold Engineering in Cologne, West Germany before moving to Keplinger and Associates in Houston, Texas. From there, Mr. Spence served as a Vice President with Coral Petroleum/Oil & Gas. In 1993, Mr. Spence founded Dark Diamond and later Coal Valley Resources, where he successfully mined and reclaimed millions of tons of coal refuse along with revegetating thousands of acres of land throughout Western Pennsylvania. In 2007, Mr. Spence became the Chief Executive Officer of Targe Energy, a position he held until he resigned due to health reasons in 2017. Mr. Spence is a proud cancer survivor. Mr. Spence is a founding and managing member of Q Power and serves on the board of Scrubgrass LP. Mr. Spence is a graduate of West Virginia University with a B.S. Degree in Mining Engineering. We believe Mr. Spence’s background in coal refuse, and the energy industry generally, and his experience with mining crypto assets makes him well qualified to serve on our Board.
Sarah P. James has served as a member of our Board since October 2021. From March 2020 to July 2021, Ms. James served as Chief Financial Officer for Alussa Energy Acquisition Corporation (NYSE: ALUS). Additionally, Ms. James serves as the Chief Financial Officer of the Beard SPAC, a special purpose acquisition company currently in registration. From February 2013 to April 2020, Ms. James served as a vice president of finance and business development at Caelus Energy Alaska, LLC, a private company specializing in oil and gas exploration and production. Ms. James oversaw the company’s business development strategy, debt and equity fundraising and ongoing financial reporting functions. From January 2008 to August 2010, she served as a private equity associate at Riverstone Holdings, an energy, power and infrastructure-focused private equity firm. Prior to that, Ms. James served as an analyst at JPMorgan Securities, Inc., in the diversified industrials and natural resources group. Ms. James currently serves on the board of directors of North American Helium Inc. Ms. James holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and English from Duke University and a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science: School of Earth Sciences from Stanford University. We believe Ms. James’ financial expertise and experience makes her well qualified to serve on our board of directors.
Thomas J. Pacchia has served as a member of our Board since October 2021. Mr. Pacchia is a Bitcoin and crypto asset specialist with over eight years of dedicated industry experience. In 2017, Mr. Pacchia founded HODL Capital, a digital asset hedge fund focused on the crypto and hash rate markets. Additionally, Mr. Pacchia serves as an advisor to a number of early stage companies building critical infrastructure across the crypto asset ecosystem. Prior to founding HODL Capital, Mr. Pacchia was a Director of Fidelity Investment’s Bitcoin/Blockchain Incubator from 2016 to 2017 and a founding team member of Fidelity Digital Asset Services. Mr. Pacchia was also an early product developer at blockchain software company Digital Asset Holdings in 2015. Prior to his career in Bitcoin, Mr. Pacchia was a swap and derivative lawyer at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP from 2012 to 2013. Mr. Pacchia holds an M.Sc. in Finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business, a J.D. from Washburn University School of Law, an L.L.M. in Intellectual Property from Maastricht University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College. We believe Mr. Pacchia’s experience in the crypto industry makes him well qualified to serve on our Board.
Thomas R. Trowbridge, IV has served as a member of our Board since October 2021. Mr. Trowbridge is a co-founder of Fluence Labs, which has developed and launched a decentralized computing protocol and programming language optimized for building, hosting and running peer-to-peer applications. From December 2019 to June 2020, Mr. Trowbridge served as President of Triterras, Inc. Prior to that, Mr. Trowbridge helped found and from 2017 to 2019 served as President of Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR) (“Hedera”), a leading enterprise-grade public ledger that is currently the most used distributed ledger with over 4 million transactions a day. As President, Mr. Trowbridge drove the business from concept to main net launch with a $124 million capital raise at a $6 billion valuation, a global team in eight countries, and a governing council that includes Google, LG, IBM, Deutsche Telekom, Nomura Holdings, Inc., DLA Piper and Tata Communications among others. Before launching Hedera, Mr. Trowbridge served as the Head of North American
Marketing and started and managed the New York office for Odey Asset Management from 2013 to 2017. Prior to his time at Odey Asset Management, Mr. Trowbridge served as the Head of U.S. Marketing for Lombard Odier from 2010 to 2012. Mr. Trowbridge has been advising technology companies since 1996, when he started his career as an investment banker in the telecom group of Bear, Stearns & Co. and began investing in early-stage technology companies in 1998 as a member of the private equity and venture capital firm Alta Communications. Mr. Trowbridge received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and his MBA from Columbia University. We believe Mr. Trowbridge’s experience in the crypto industry makes him well qualified to serve on our Board.
Matthew J. Smith has served as a member of our Board since November 2021. He has served as the Founder and Managing Partner of Deep Basin Capital LP since January 2017. Mr. Smith has over 16 years of investment management experience in the energy, renewable, power and utility sectors across both public and private investments, including the roles of portfolio manager at Citadel’s Surveyor Capital Ltd. from June 2010 through January 2016, senior analyst in the energy and other cyclical sectors for Highfields Capital Management LP from January 2009 to December 2009 and Copper Arch Capital LLC from July 2005 to December 2007 and as a financial analyst at Equity Office Properties Trust from August 2001 to May 2003. Mr. Smith is a CFA Charterholder. Mr. Smith currently serves as an independent director and audit committee member on the board of Spartan Acquisition Corp III (NYSE: SPAQ), a role that he has held since May 2021. He holds a M.S. in Finance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Applied Security Analysis Program (ASAP) and a B.B.A. from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. We believe Mr. Smith’s experience in the energy, renewable, power and utility sectors across both public and private investments makes him well qualified to serve on our Board.
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The Class A common stock of the Company is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “SDIG.” As of March 11, 2022, there were 20,020,877 shares of Class A common stock outstanding and 28,209,600 shares of Class V common stock outstanding. There is no market for our Class V common stock. Each share of Class V common stock has no economic rights but entitles its holders to one vote per share of Class V common stock on all matters to be voted on by the shareholders generally.
Holders of Record
As of March 11, 2022, there were 90 and two stockholders of record of our Class A common stock and Class V common stock, respectively. In the case of our Class A common stock, the actual number of holders is greater than this number of record holders, and includes stockholders who are beneficial owners, but whose shares are held in street name by brokers or held by other nominees. The number of holders of record of Class A common stock also does not include stockholders whose shares may be held in trust by other entities.
The Company has never paid quarterly dividends to shareholders, and has no present intention to do so.
Item 6. [Reserved]
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Except as otherwise indicated or required by the context, all references in this prospectus to the “Company,” “we,” “us” or “our” relate to Stronghold Digital Mining, Inc. (“Stronghold Inc.”) and its consolidated subsidiaries following the Reorganization.
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes and other financial information appearing in this Form 10-K. Some of the information contained in this discussion and analysis or set forth elsewhere in this Form 10-K, including information with respect to our plans, expectations and strategy for our business, and operations, includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. For a complete discussion of forward-looking statements, see section above entitled “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.” Certain risks may cause actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the following discussion and analysis. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, those described under the heading “Risk Factors” and discussed elsewhere in this Form 10-K.
We are a vertically integrated crypto asset mining company currently focused on mining Bitcoin. We wholly own and operate two low-cost, environmentally-beneficial coal refuse power generation facilities that we have upgraded: (i) our first reclamation facility located on a 650-acre site in Scrubgrass Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania, which we acquired the remaining interest of in April 2021 and currently has the capacity to generate approximately 83.5 megawatts ("MW") of electricity (the "Scrubgrass Plant") and (ii) a facility located near Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania, which we acquired in November of 2021 and which has the capacity to generate approximately 80 MW of electricity (the "Panther Creek Plant"), each of which are recognized as an Alternative Energy System because coal refuse is classified under Pennsylvania law as a Tier II Alternative Energy Source (large-scale hydropower is also classified in this tier). We are committed to generating our energy and managing our assets sustainably, and we believe that we are one of the first vertically integrated crypto asset mining companies with a focus on environmentally beneficial operations. Owning our own source of power helps us to produce Bitcoin at one of the lowest prices among our publicly traded peers. We also believe that owning our own power source makes us a more attractive partner to crypto asset mining equipment purveyors. We completed our previously disclosed acquisition of a second coal refuse power generation facility and have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to purchase a third coal refuse power generation facility (the "Third Plant"). We intend to leverage these competitive advantages to continue to grow our business through the opportunistic acquisition of additional power generating assets and miners.
Bitcoin Mining Growth
During 2018 and 2019, we began providing Bitcoin mining services to third parties and also began operating our own Bitcoin mining equipment to generate Bitcoin, which we then exchange for U.S. Dollars. We have been expanding our mining operations since such date. As of December 31, 2021 we operated approximately 8,000 crypto asset mining computers (known as “miners”) with hash rate exceeding 0.8 EH/s. As of December 31, 2021 we had entered into definitive agreements with suppliers to purchase approximately 39,000 additional miners, including the remaining MinerVa Semiconductor Corp. ("MinerVa") miners that were not yet delivered at year end, with a total hash capacity equal to approximately 4.0 EH/s. We do not know when the remaining 11,700 MinerVa miners will be delivered, if at all. Additionally, we are evaluating all available remedies under the MinerVa Purchase Agreement (as defined herein). We intend to house our miners at the Scrubgrass Plant, the Panther Creek Plant, the Third Plant or other power assets that we identify.
With the full deployment of these new miners, including the remaining 11,700 MinerVa miners, which we do not know when they will be delivered, if at all, our total fleet is currently expected to comprise approximately 57,000 total miners by December 2022 and consume approximately 200 MW of electricity.
Trends and Other Factors Impacting Our Performance
COVID-19 and Supply Chain Constraints
The coronavirus ("COVID-19") global pandemic has resulted and is likely to continue to result in significant national and global economic disruption, which may adversely affect our business. Among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic
has caused supply chain disruptions that may have lasting impacts. Additionally, the global supply chain for Bitcoin miners is presently further constrained due to unprecedented demand coupled with a global shortage of mining equipment and mining equipment parts. Based on our current assessments, however, we do not expect any material impact on long-term development, operations, or liquidity due to the spread of COVID-19. However, we are actively monitoring this situation and the possible effects on its financial condition, liquidity, operations, suppliers, and industry.
China’s Crackdown on Bitcoin Mining
In May 2021, the Chinese government called for a crackdown on Bitcoin mining and trading. Following this, the majority of Bitcoin miners in China were taken offline. This resulted in (i) a significant reduction in the Bitcoin global network hash rate, (ii) an increase in the availability of Bitcoin miners for purchase and (iii) an increase in the demand for power outside of China. Further, in September 2021, Chinese regulators instituted a blanket ban on all crypto mining and transactions, including overseas crypto exchange services taking place in China, effectively making all crypto-related activities illegal in China. The reduction in network hash rate has improved Bitcoin mining profitability, with plugged-in Bitcoin miners representing a larger percentage of the global hash rate. We do not believe that higher demand for power will have a negative impact on our business because we own and operate our power sources.
During the fourth quarter of 2021 and continuing into 2022, the Scrubgrass Plant had downtime that was greater than anticipated, driven largely by mechanical failures. The upgrades and maintenance that are necessary have taken longer and are more extensive than originally anticipated. We expect these investments to be completed in the second half of 2022. Once finished, the Scrubgrass Plant is expected to be operational at nameplate capacity with high uptime and low operating costs.
On March 3, 2021, Stronghold Digital Mining LLC (“SDM”) entered into a non-binding letter of intent with Olympus Power, LLC (together with its affiliates, "Olympus") (the “Olympus LOI”) for the purchase of (i) the ownership interest in Scrubgrass Reclamation Company, L.P. (f/k/a Scrubgrass Generating Company, L.P.) (“Scrubgrass LP”) held by Aspen Scrubgrass Participant, LLC (the “Aspen Interest”), (ii) the Panther Creek Plant, and (iii) the Third Plant.
On July 9, 2021, Stronghold Digital Mining Holdings LLC (“Stronghold LLC”) entered into a purchase agreement for the Panther Creek Plant (the “Panther Creek Acquisition”), as contemplated by the Olympus LOI, from Olympus. The Panther Creek Acquisition includes all of the assets of Panther Creek Power Operating LLC, comprised primarily of the Panther Creek Plant. The Panther Creek Plant is a coal refuse reclamation facility with 80 MW of net electricity generation capacity located near Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania. We completed the Panther Creek Acquisition on November 2, 2021. The consideration for the Panther Creek Plant was approximately $2.2 million ($3 million less $800 thousand in shared land closing costs) in cash and 1,152,000 Class A common units of Stronghold LLC (“Stronghold LLC Units”), together with a corresponding number of shares of Class V common stock. Effective November 2, 2021, we closed on this acquisition. Refer to "Note 25 - Acquisition" in the notes to our financial statements.
We continue to evaluate the acquisition of the Third Plant as contemplated by the Olympus LOI, although the acquisition of the Third Plant is subject to further due diligence and the negotiation of a definitive agreement, and there is no assurance that the acquisition will be completed. The acquisition of the Third Plant is subject to further due diligence and the negotiation of a definitive agreement, and there is no assurance that the acquisition will be completed. The consideration for the Third Plant is expected to be approximately $3.0 million in cash and 6,250,000 of Stronghold LLC Units, together with a corresponding number of shares of Class V common stock. If acquired, we plan to store newly acquired miners at or near the Third Plant and use power generated by the Third Plant to power crypto asset mining operations in an environmentally conscious manner. We are also strategically pursuing acquisitions of additional assets.
On August 17, 2021, we entered into an agreement with Northern Data PA, LLC (“Northern Data”) whereby Northern Data will construct and operate a colocation datacenter facility located on the Scrubgrass Plant (the “Hosting Agreement”), the primary business purpose of which will be to provide hosting services and support the cryptocurrency miners that we have purchased but not yet received entirely. On March 28, 2022, we restructured the Hosting Agreement to obtain an
additional 2,675 miners at cost of $37.5 per terahash (to be paid five months after delivery) and temporarily reduced the profit share for Northern Data while incorporating performance thresholds until the data center build-out is complete. Refer to "Note 28 - Hosting Services Agreement" in the notes to our financial statements.
Initial Public Offering
We completed the issuance and sale of our Class A common stock, par value $.0001 per share, in an initial public offering (the "IPO") on October 22, 2021, and our Class A common stock is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol “SDIG.” Refer to "Note 27 - Initial Public Offering" in the notes to our financial statements.
We effected 2.88-for-1 stock split on October 22, 2021, pursuant to which each share of common stock held of record by the holder thereof was reclassified into approximately 2.88 shares of common stock. No fractional shares were issued. Pursuant to the Second Amended and Restated Limited Liability Company Agreement of Stronghold LLC, as amended from time to time, each Stronghold LLC Unit was also split on a corresponding 2.88-for-1 basis, such that there are an equivalent number of Stronghold LLC Units outstanding as the aggregate number of shares of Class V common stock and Class A common stock outstanding following the stock split. We refer to this collectively as the “Stock Split.”
On October 28, 2021, we entered into an agreement with Bitmain Technologies Limited (“Bitmain”) to purchase 12,000 miners, which will be delivered in six equal batches on a monthly basis beginning in April 2022 (the "First Bitmain Purchase Agreement"). Per the First Bitmain Purchase Agreement, on October 29, 2021, we made an initial payment of $23,300,000 to Bitmain for the miners, On November 18, 2021, we made an additional payment of $4,550,000. Subsequent payments will be made in the future in connection with additional deliveries of miners under the First Bitmain Purchase Agreement.
On November 16, 2021, we entered into a second agreement with Bitmain to purchase 1,800 miners, which will be delivered in six equal batches on a monthly basis beginning in July 2022 (the "Second Bitmain Purchase Agreement"). Per the Second Bitmain Purchase Agreement, on November 18, 2021, we made an initial payment of $6,835,000 to Bitmain for the miners. Subsequent payments will be made in the future in connection with additional deliveries of miners under the Second Bitmain Purchase Agreement.
The miners purchased pursuant to the two agreements with Bitmain will have an aggregate hash rate capacity of approximately 1,450 PH/s.
Nowlit Solutions Corp.
We paid for two separate purchases of miners from Nowlit Solutions Corp. The first purchase payment was made on November 23, 2021, in the amount of $1,605,360 for 190 miners. The second purchase payment was made on November 26, 2021, in the amount of $2,486,730 for an additional 295 miners.
Luxor Technology Corporation
We paid for three separate purchases of miners from Luxor Technology Corporation ("Luxor"). The first purchase payment was made on November 26, 2021, in the amount of $4,312,650 for 770 miners. The second and third purchase payments were made on November 29, 2021, in the amount of $5,357,300 and $3,633,500 respectively, for an additional 750 and 500 miners.
On November 30, 2021, we entered into a fourth purchase agreement with Luxor to acquire 400 Antminer T19 miners with a hash rate of 84 TH/s and 400 Antminer T19 miners with a hash rate of 88 terahash per second ("TH/s") for a total purchase price of $6,260,800.
Cryptech Purchase Agreement
On December 7, 2021, we entered into a Hardware Purchase and Sales Agreement (the “Cryptech Purchase Agreement”) with Cryptech Solutions, Inc ("Cryptech") to acquire 1,000 Bitmain S19a miners (the “Cryptech Miners”) with a hash rate of 96 TH/s for a total purchase price of $8,592,000. Pursuant to the Cryptech Purchase Agreement, all hardware will be paid for in advance of being shipped to the Company.
Supplier Purchase Agreements
On December 10, 2021, we entered into a Hardware Purchase and Sale Agreement (the “First Supplier Purchase Agreement”) to acquire 3,000 MicroBT WhatsMiner M30S miners (the “M30S Miners”) with a hash rate per unit of 87 “TH/s”. Pursuant to the First Supplier Purchase Agreement, the unit price per M30S Miner is $6,960 for a cumulative purchase price of $20,880,000 that was paid in full within five business days of the execution of the First Supplier Purchase Agreement.
On December 16, 2021, we entered into a Second Hardware Purchase and Sale Agreement (the “Second Supplier Purchase Agreement") to acquire a cumulative amount of approximately 4,280 M30S Miners and MicroBT WhatsMiner M30S+ miners with a hash rate per unit of 100 TH/s (the “M30S+ Miners”). Pursuant to the Second Supplier Purchase Agreement, the unit price per M30S Miner is $2,714 and the unit price per M30S+ Miner is $3,520 for a cumulative purchase price of $11,340,373.
NYDIG ABL LLC
On December 15, 2021, we entered into a Master Equipment Finance Agreement (the “Second NYDIG Financing Agreement”) with NYDIG ABL LLC (“NYDIG”) whereby NYDIG agreed to lend Stronghold Digital Mining BT, LLC ("Digital Mining BT") up to $53,952,000 to finance the purchase of certain Bitcoin miners and related equipment (the “Second NYDIG-Financed Equipment”). Outstanding borrowings under the Second NYDIG Financing Agreement are secured by the Second NYDIG-Financed Equipment, contracts to acquire Second NYDIG-Financed Equipment, and the Bitcoin mined by the Second NYDIG-Financed Equipment. The Second NYDIG Financing Agreement includes customary restrictions on additional liens on the Second NYDIG-Financed Equipment. The NYDIG Second Financing Agreement may not be terminated by Digital Mining BT or prepaid in whole or in part. Refer to "Note 6 - Long-Term Debt" and "Note 32 - Subsequent Events" in our notes to our financial statements.
On November 2, 2021, we entered into the Operations, Maintenance and Ancillary Services Agreement (the “Omnibus Services Agreement”) with Olympus Stronghold Services, LLC (“Olympus Stronghold Services”), whereby Olympus Stronghold Services will provide certain operations and maintenance services to Stronghold LLC, as well as employ certain personnel to operate the Panther Creek Plant and the Scrubgrass Plant. Stronghold LLC will reimburse Olympus Stronghold Services for those costs incurred by Olympus Stronghold Services and approved by Stronghold LLC in the course of providing services under the Omnibus Services Agreement, including payroll and benefits costs and insurance costs. The material costs incurred by Olympus Stronghold Services shall be approved by Stronghold LLC. Stronghold LLC will also pay Olympus Stronghold Services a management fee at the rate of $1,000,000 per year, payable monthly, and an additional one-time mobilization fee of $150,000 upon the effective date of the Omnibus Services Agreement. Refer to "Note 9 - Related Party Transactions" in the notes to our financial statements.
On April 1, 2021, we effected the corporate reorganization described in "Note 1 - Business Combinations" in the notes to our financial statements.
Key Performance Metrics
We rely on Adjusted EBITDA (as defined below), a non-GAAP (as defined below) key performance metric, to evaluate our business, measure our performance, and make strategic decisions.
Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss) before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, further adjusted by the removal of one-time transaction costs, periodic impairment of digital currencies, realized gains and losses on the sale of long-term assets, expenses related to stock-based compensation, gains or losses on derivative contracts, gain on extinguishment of debt, realized gain or loss on sale of digital currencies, waste coal credits, commission on sale of ash, or changes in fair value of warrant liabilities in the period presented.
Our board of directors (the “Board”) and management team use Adjusted EBITDA to assess our financial performance because it allows them to compare our operating performance on a consistent basis across periods by removing the effects of our capital structure (such as varying levels of interest expense and income), asset base (such as depreciation, amortization, impairment, and realized gains and losses on sale of long-term assets) and other items (such as one-time transaction costs, expenses related to stock-based compensation, and unrealized gains and losses on derivative contracts)
that impact the comparability of financial results from period to period. We present Adjusted EBITDA because we believe it provides useful information regarding the factors and trends affecting our business in addition to measures calculated under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“GAAP”). Adjusted EBITDA is not a financial measure presented in accordance with GAAP. We believe that the presentation of this non-GAAP financial measure will provide useful information to investors and analysts in assessing our financial performance and results of operations across reporting periods by excluding items we do not believe are indicative of our core operating performance. Net income (loss) is the GAAP measure most directly comparable to Adjusted EBITDA. Our non-GAAP financial measure should not be considered as an alternative to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure. You are encouraged to evaluate each of these adjustments and the reasons we consider them appropriate for supplemental analysis. In evaluating Adjusted EBITDA, you should be aware that in the future we may incur expenses that are the same as or similar to some of the adjustments in such presentation. Our presentation of Adjusted EBITDA should not be construed as an inference that our future results will be unaffected by unusual or non-recurring items. There can be no assurance that we will not modify the presentation of Adjusted EBITDA in the future, and any such modification may be material. Adjusted EBITDA has important limitations as an analytical tool and you should not consider Adjusted EBITDA in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Because Adjusted EBITDA may be defined differently by other companies in our industry, our definition of this non-GAAP financial measure may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies, thereby diminishing its utility.
Critical Accounting Policies and Significant Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAP) requires management to make estimates and assumptions about future events that affect the amounts reported in the financial statements and accompanying notes. Future events and their effects cannot be
determined with absolute certainty. Therefore, the determination of estimates requires the exercise of judgment. Actual results inevitably will differ from those estimates, and such differences may be material to the financial statements. The most significant accounting estimates inherent in the preparation of our financial statements include estimates associated with revenue recognition, investments, intangible assets, stock-based compensation and business combinations. Our financial position, results of operations and cash flows are impacted by the accounting policies we have adopted. In order to get a full understanding of our financial statements, one must have a clear understanding of the accounting policies employed.
A summary of our critical accounting policies follows:
Fair Value Measurements
We measure at fair value certain of our financial and non-financial assets and liabilities by using a fair value hierarchy that prioritizes the inputs to valuation techniques used to measure fair value. Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date, essentially an exit price, based on the highest and best use of the asset or liability. The levels of the fair value hierarchy are:
Level 1: Observable inputs such as quoted market prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities;
Level 2: Observable market-based inputs or unobservable inputs that are corroborated by market data; and
Level 3: Unobservable inputs for which there is little or no market data, which require the use of the reporting entity’s own assumptions.
A financial instrument’s level within the fair value hierarchy is based on the lowest level of any input that is significant to the fair value measurement.
Management has assessed the basis of depreciation of our cryptocurrency machines used to verify digital currency transactions and generate digital currencies and believes they should be depreciated over a two-year period. The rate at which we generate digital assets and, therefore, consume the economic benefits of our transaction verification servers, is influenced by a number of factors including the following:
1.The complexity of the transaction verification process which is driven by the algorithms contained within the Bitcoin open source software;
2.The general availability of appropriate computer processing capacity on a global basis (commonly referred to in the industry as hashing capacity which is measured in petahash units); and
3.Technological obsolescence reflecting rapid development in the transaction verification server industry such that more recently developed hardware is more economically efficient to run in terms of digital assets generated as a function of operating costs, primarily power costs, (i.e., the speed of hardware evolution in the industry is such that later hardware models generally have faster processing capacity combined with lower operating costs and a lower cost of purchase).
We operate in an emerging industry for which limited data is available to make estimates of the useful economic lives of specialized equipment. Management has determined that two years best reflects the current expected useful life of transaction verification servers. This assessment takes into consideration the availability of historical data and management’s expectations regarding the direction of the industry including potential changes in technology. Management will review this estimate annually and will revise such estimate as and when data becomes available.
To the extent that any of the assumptions underlying management’s estimate of useful life of its transaction verification servers are subject to revision in a future reporting period either as a result of changes in circumstances or through the availability of greater quantities of data then the estimated useful life could change and have a prospective impact on depreciation expense and the carrying amounts of these assets.
We recognize revenue under ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. The core principle of this revenue standard is that a company should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. The following five steps are applied to achieve that core principle:
1.Step 1: Identify the contract with the customer
2.Step 2: Identify the performance obligations in the contract
3.Step 3: Determine the transaction price
4.Step 4: Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract
5.Step 5: Recognize revenue when we satisfy a performance obligation
In order to identify the performance obligations in a contract with a customer, a company must assess the promised goods or services in the contract and identify each promised good or service that is distinct. A performance obligation meets ASC 606’s definition of a “distinct” good or service (or bundle of goods or services) if both of the following criteria are met: the customer can benefit from the good or service either on its own or together with other resources that are readily available to the customer (i.e., the good or service is capable of being distinct), and the entity’s promise to transfer the good or service to the customer is separately identifiable from other promises in the contract (i.e., the promise to transfer the good or service is distinct within the context of the contract).
If a good or service is not distinct, the good or service is combined with other promised goods or services until a bundle of goods or services is identified that is distinct.
The transaction price is the amount of consideration to which an entity expects to be entitled in exchange for transferring promised goods or services to a customer. The consideration promised in a contract with a customer may include fixed amounts, variable amounts, or both.
When determining the transaction price, an entity must consider the effects of all of the following:
•Constraining estimates of variable consideration
•The existence of a significant financing component in the contract
•Consideration payable to a customer
Variable consideration is included in the transaction price only to the extent that it is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the uncertainty associated with the variable consideration is subsequently resolved. The transaction price is allocated to each performance obligation on a relative standalone selling price basis. The transaction price allocated to each performance obligation is recognized when that performance obligation is satisfied, at a point in time or over time as appropriate. There were no revenue streams with variable consideration during the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 and 2020.
There is currently no specific definitive guidance under GAAP or alternative accounting framework for the accounting for cryptocurrencies recognized as revenue or held, and management has exercised significant judgment in determining the appropriate accounting treatment. In the event authoritative guidance is enacted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (the "FASB"), we may be required to change our policies, which could have an effect on our condensed consolidated financial position and results from operations.
Fair value of the digital asset award received is determined using the quoted price of the related cryptocurrency at the time of receipt.
Our policies with respect to our revenue streams are detailed below.
We operate as a market participant through PJM Interconnection, a Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity. We sell energy in the wholesale generation market in the PJM RTO. Energy revenues are delivered as a series of distinct units that are substantially the same and that have the same pattern of transfer to the customer over time and are therefore accounted for as a distinct performance obligation. The transaction price is based on pricing published in the day ahead market which constitute the stand-alone selling price.
Energy revenue is recognized over time as energy volumes are generated and delivered to the RTO (which is contemporaneous with generation), using the output method for measuring progress of satisfaction of the performance obligation. We apply the invoice practical expedient in recognizing energy revenue. Under the invoice practical expedient, energy revenue is recognized based on the invoiced amount which is considered equal to the value provided to the customer for our performance obligation completed to date.
Reactive energy power is provided to maintain a continuous voltage level. Revenue from reactive power is recognized ratably over time as we stand ready to provide it if called upon by the PJM RTO.
We provide capacity to a customer through participation in capacity auctions held by the PJM RTO. Capacity revenues are a series of distinct performance obligations that are substantially the same and that have the same pattern of transfer to the customer over time and are therefore accounted for as a distinct performance obligation. The transaction price for capacity is market-based and constitutes the stand-alone selling price. As capacity represents our stand-ready obligation, capacity revenue is recognized as the performance obligation is satisfied ratably over time, on a monthly basis, since we stand ready equally throughout the period to deliver power to the PJM RTO if called upon. We apply the invoice practical expedient in recognizing capacity revenue. Under the invoice practical expedient, capacity revenue is recognized based on the invoiced amount which is considered equal to the value provided to the customer for our performance obligation completed to date. Penalties may be assessed by the PJM RTO against generation facilities if the facility is not available during the capacity period. The penalties assessed by the PJM RTO, if any, are recorded as a reduction to capacity revenue when incurred.
We have entered into customer hosting contracts whereby we provide electrical power to cryptocurrency mining customers, and the customers pay a stated amount per MWh (“Contract Capacity”). This amount is paid monthly in advance. Amounts used in excess of the Contract Capacity are billed based upon calculated formulas as contained in the contracts. If any shortfalls occur due to outages, make-whole payment provisions contained in the contracts are used to offset the billings to the customer which prevented them from cryptocurrency mining. Advanced payments and customer deposits are reflected as contract liabilities.
We have entered into digital asset mining pools by executing contracts, as amended from time to time, with the mining pool operators to provide computing power to the mining pool. The contracts are terminable at any time by either party and our enforceable right to compensation only begins when we provide computing power to the mining pool operator. In exchange for providing computing power, we are entitled to a fractional share of the fixed cryptocurrency award the mining pool operator receives (less digital asset transaction fees to the mining pool operator which are recorded as a component of cost of revenues), for successfully adding a block to the blockchain. The terms of the agreement provide that neither party can dispute settlement terms after thirty-five days following settlement. Our fractional share is based on the proportion of computing power we contributed to the mining pool operator to the total computing power contributed by all mining pool participants in solving the current algorithm.
Providing computing power in digital asset transaction verification services is an output of our ordinary activities. The provision of providing such computing power is the only performance obligation in our contracts with mining pool operators. The transaction consideration we receive, if any, is noncash consideration, which we measure at fair value on the date received, which is not materially different than the fair value at contract inception or the time we have earned the award from the pools. The consideration is all variable. Because it is not probable that a significant reversal of cumulative revenue will not occur, the consideration is constrained until the mining pool operator successfully places a block (by being the first to solve an algorithm) and we receive confirmation of the consideration we will receive, at which time revenue is recognized. There is no significant financing component in these transactions.
Fair value of the cryptocurrency award received is determined using the quoted price of the related cryptocurrency at the time of receipt. There is currently no specific definitive guidance under GAAP or alternative accounting framework for the accounting for cryptocurrencies recognized as revenue or held, and management has exercised significant judgment in determining the appropriate accounting treatment. In the event authoritative guidance is enacted by the FASB, we may be required to change our policies, which could have an effect on our consolidated financial position and results from operations.
Asset Retirement Obligations
Asset retirement obligations, including those conditioned on future events, are recorded at fair value in the period in which they are incurred, if a reasonable estimate of fair value can be made. The associated asset retirement costs are capitalized as part of the carrying amount of the related long-lived asset in the same period. In each subsequent period, the liability is accreted to its present value and the capitalized cost is depreciated over the EUL of the long-lived asset. If the asset retirement obligation is settled for other than the carrying amount of the liability, we recognize a gain or loss on settlement. Our asset retirement obligation represents the cost we would incur to perform environmental clean-up or dismantle certain portions of the Facility.
Impairment of long-lived assets
We review long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. A long-lived asset (group) that is held and used must be reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the long-lived asset (group) might not be recoverable (i.e., information indicates that an impairment might exist). We are responsible for routinely assessing whether impairment indicators are present and should have systems or processes to assist in the identification of potential impairment indicators.
We are not required to perform an impairment analysis (i.e., test the asset (group) for recoverability and potentially measure an impairment loss) if indicators of impairment are not present. We have assessed the need for an impairment write-down only if an indicator of impairment (e.g., a significant decrease in the market value of a long-lived asset (group)) is present. Based on our analysis, no impairment indicators existed as of December 31, 2021 and 2020, respectively, that would require impairment testing of our long-lived assets.
In accordance with guidance on accounting for derivative instruments and hedging activities all derivatives should be recognized at fair value. Derivatives or any portion thereof, that are not designated as, and effective as, hedges must be adjusted to fair value through earnings. Derivative contracts are classified as either assets or liabilities on the accompanying combined balance sheets. Certain contracts that require physical delivery may qualify for and be designated as normal purchases/normal sales. Such contracts are accounted for on an accrual basis.
We use derivative instruments to mitigate our exposure to various energy commodity market risks. We do not enter into any derivative contracts or similar arrangements for speculative or trading purposes. We will, at times, sell our forward unhedged electricity capacity to stabilize its future operating margins.
We also use derivative instruments to mitigate the risks of bitcoin market pricing volatility. We entered into a variable prepaid forward sale contract that mitigates bitcoin market pricing volatility risks between a low and high collar of bitcoin market prices during the contract term. This contract settles in September 2022. The contract meets the definition of a derivative transaction pursuant to guidance under ASC 815 and is considered a compound derivative instrument which is required to be presented at fair value subject to remeasurement each reporting period. The changes in fair value is recorded as changes in fair value of forward sale derivative as part of earnings.
Stock Based Compensation
For equity-classified awards, compensation expense is recognized over the requisite service period based on the computed fair value on the grant date of the award. Equity classified awards include the issuance of stock options and restricted stock units (“RSUs”).
We record notes payable net of any discounts or premiums. Discounts and premiums are amortized as interest expense or income over the life of the note in such a way as to result in a constant rate of interest when applied to the amount outstanding at the beginning of any given period.
We record warrant liabilities at their fair value as of the balance sheet date, and recognizes changes in the balances, over the comparative periods of either the issuance date or the last reporting date, as part of changes in fair value of warrant liabilities expense. At the issuance date, each series of warrants were convertible and redeemable to preferred stock.
Loss per share
Basic net (loss) income per share (“EPS”) of common stock is computed by dividing net loss by the weighted average number of shares of common stock outstanding or shares subject to exercise for a nominal value during the period. Diluted EPS reflects the potential dilution that could occur if securities or other contracts to issue common stock were exercised or converted into common stock or resulted in the issuance of common stock that then shared in the earnings of the entity.
The amount of income taxes we record requires interpretations of complex rules and regulations of federal, state, and local tax jurisdictions. We use the asset and liability method of accounting for income taxes, under which deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences of temporary differences between the financial statement carrying values and the tax bases of existing assets and liabilities, and for operating loss and tax credit carryforwards. Deferred income tax assets and liabilities are based on enacted tax rates applicable to the future period when those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect of a change in tax rates on deferred tax assets and liabilities is recognized in income in the period the rate change is enacted. A valuation allowance is provided for deferred tax assets when it is more likely than not the deferred tax assets will not be realized after considering all positive and negative evidence available concerning the realizability of our deferred tax assets.
As of the year ended December 31, 2021, we maintained a valuation allowance on our deferred tax assets. The valuation allowance remains in place based on the uncertainty of future events, including the Company’s ability to generate future taxable income in light of its recent losses, and management considered this and other factors in evaluating the realizability of our deferred tax assets. Any changes in the positive or negative evidence evaluated when determining if our deferred tax assets will be realized could result in a material change to our consolidated financial statements.
The accruals for deferred tax assets and liabilities are often based on assumptions that are subject to a significant amount of judgment by management. These assumptions and judgments are reviewed and adjusted as facts and circumstances change. Material changes to our income tax accruals may occur in the future based on the potential for income tax audits, changes in legislation or resolution of pending matters.
Post IPO Taxation and Public Company Costs
Stronghold LLC is and has been organized as a pass through entity for U.S. federal income tax purposes and is therefore not subject to entity-level U.S. federal income taxes. Stronghold Inc. was incorporated as a Delaware corporation on March 19, 2021 and therefore is subject to U.S. federal income taxes and state and local taxes at the prevailing corporate income tax rates, including with respect to its allocable share of any taxable income of Stronghold LLC. In addition to tax expenses, Stronghold Inc. also incurs expenses related to its operations, plus payment obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement entered into between the Company, Q Power LLC (“Q Power”) and an agent named by Q Power, dated April 1, 2021 (the “TRA”), which are expected to be significant. To the extent Stronghold LLC has available cash and subject to the terms of any current or future debt instruments, the Fourth Amended and Restated Limited Liability Company Agreement of Stronghold LLC, as amended from time to time (the “Stronghold LLC Agreement”) requires Stronghold LLC to make pro rata cash distributions to holders of Stronghold LLC Units (“Stronghold Unit Holders”), including Stronghold Inc., in an amount sufficient to allow Stronghold Inc. to pay its taxes and to make payments under the TRA. In addition, the Stronghold LLC Agreement requires Stronghold LLC to make non-pro rata payments to Stronghold Inc. to reimburse it for its corporate and other overhead expenses, which payments are not treated as distributions under the Stronghold LLC Agreement. See “—Tax Receivable Agreement” herein for additional information.
In addition, we have incurred, and expect to continue to incur, incremental, non-recurring costs related to our transition to a publicly traded corporation, including the costs of the IPO and the costs associated with the initial implementation of our internal control reviews and testing pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act"). We have also incurred, and expect to continue to incur, additional significant and recurring expenses as a publicly traded corporation, including costs associated with compliance under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, annual and quarterly reports to common stockholders, registrar and transfer agent fees, national stock exchange fees, audit fees, incremental director and officer liability insurance costs and director and officer compensation. Our financial statements following the IPO will continue to reflect the impact of these expenses.
Factors Affecting Comparability of Our Future Results of Operations to Our Historical Results of Operations
Our historical financial results discussed below may not be comparable to our future financial results for the reasons described below.
Stronghold Inc. is subject to U.S. federal, state and local income taxes as a corporation. Our accounting predecessor was treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and as such, was generally not subject to U.S. federal income tax at the entity level. Rather, the tax liability with respect to its taxable income was passed through to its members. Accordingly, the financial data attributable to our predecessor contains no provision for U.S. federal income taxes or income taxes in any state or locality. Due to cumulative and current losses as well as an evaluation of other sources of income as outlined in ASC 740, management has determined that the utilization of our deferred tax assets is not more likely than not, and therefore we have recorded a valuation allowance against our net deferred tax assets. Management continues to evaluate the likelihood of the Company utilizing its deferred taxes, and while the valuation allowance remains in place, we expect to record no deferred income tax expense or benefit. Should the valuation allowance no longer be required, the 21% statutory federal income tax rate as well as state and local income taxes at their respective rates will apply to income allocated to Stronghold Inc., resulting in an estimated blended statutory rate of 28.89% of pre-tax earnings or losses attributable to the Company.
As we further implement controls, processes and infrastructure applicable to companies with publicly traded equity securities, it is likely that we will incur additional selling, general and administrative ("G&A") expenses relative to historical periods. Our future results will depend on our ability to efficiently manage our combined operations and execute our business strategy.
As we continue to acquire miners and utilize our power generating assets to power such miners, we anticipate that a great proportion of our revenue and expenses will relate to crypto asset mining.
As previously discussed in the Critical Accounting Policies section, the preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAP) requires management to make estimates and assumptions about future events that affect the amounts reported in the financial statements and accompanying notes. Future events and their effects cannot be determined with absolute certainty. Therefore, the determination of estimates requires the exercise of judgment. Actual results inevitably will differ from those estimates, and such differences may be material to the financial statements. The most significant accounting estimates inherent in the preparation of our financial statements include estimates associated with revenue recognition, investments, intangible assets, stock-based compensation and business combinations. The Company’s financial position, results of operations and
cash flows are impacted by the accounting policies the Company has adopted. In order to get a full understanding of the Company’s financial statements, one must have a clear understanding of the accounting policies employed.
Consolidated Results- for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020
Twelve months ended December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020
|Twelve months ended December 31,|
|$ Change||% Change vs. 2020|
|Energy||$||11,870,817 ||38.4 ||%||$||518,397 ||12.6 ||%||$||11,352,420 ||2,189.9 ||%|
|Capacity||4,238,921 ||13.7 ||%||2,816,457 ||68.4 ||%||1,422,464 ||50.5 ||%|
|Crypto asset hosting||2,297,489 ||7.4 ||%||252,413 ||6.1 ||%||2,045,076 ||810.2 ||%|
|Crypto asset mining||12,494,581 ||40.4 ||%||339,456 ||8.2 ||%||12,155,125 ||3,580.8 ||%|
|Other||13,329 ||0.0 ||%||191,661 ||4.7 ||%||(178,332)||(93.0)||%|
|Total operating revenues||30,915,137 ||100.0 ||%||4,118,384 ||100.0 ||%||26,796,753 ||650.7 ||%|
|OPERATING EXPENSES|| || || |
|Fuel||13,190,828 ||24.8 ||%||389,633 ||6.0 ||%||12,801,195 ||3,285.4 ||%|
|Operations and maintenance||15,492,763 ||29.2 ||%||3,305,833 ||50.7 ||%||12,186,930 ||368.6 ||%|
|General and administrative||14,955,626 ||28.2 ||%||2,269,525 ||34.8 ||%||12,686,101 ||559.0 ||%|
|Impairments on digital currencies||1,870,274 ||3.5 ||%||— ||0.0 ||%||1,870,274 ||0.0 ||%|
|Depreciation and amortization||7,607,721 ||14.3 ||%||558,630 ||8.6 ||%||7,049,091 ||1,261.9 ||%|
|Total operating expenses||53,117,212 ||100.0 ||%||6,523,621 ||100.0 ||%||46,593,591 ||714.2 ||%|
|NET OPERATING INCOME||(22,202,075)||100.0 ||%||(2,405,237)||100.0 ||%||(19,796,838)||823.1 |
|OTHER INCOME (EXPENSE)|| || || |
|Interest Expense||(4,622,655)||91.5 ||%||(205,480)||(9.1)||%||(4,417,175)||2,149.7 ||%|
|Gain on extinguishment of PPP loan||638,800 ||(12.6)||%||10,000 ||0.4 ||%||628,800 ||6,288.0 ||%|
Realized gain (loss) on sale of digital currencies
|149,858 ||(3.0)||%||31,810 ||1.4 ||%||118,048 ||371.1 ||%|
|Changes in fair value of warrant liabilities||(1,143,809)||22.6 ||%||— ||0.0 ||%||(1,143,809)||0.0 ||%|
|Changes in fair value of forward sale derivative||(116,488)||2.3 ||%||— ||0.0 ||%||(116,488)||0.0 ||%|
|Realized gain on sales of derivatives||— ||0.0 ||%||1,207,131 ||53.4 ||%||(1,207,131)||(100.0)||%|
|Waste coal credit||47,752 ||(0.9)||%||1,188,210 ||52.6 ||%||(1,140,458)||(96.0)||%|
|Other income / (expense)||(6,712)||0.1 ||%||28,572 ||1.3 ||%||(35,284)||(123.5)||%|
|Total other income / (expense)||(5,053,254)||100.0 ||%||2,260,243 ||100.0 ||%||(7,313,497)||(323.6)||%|
|NET LOSS||$||(27,255,329)||$||(144,994)||$||(27,110,335)||18,697.6 ||%|
Highlights of our consolidated results of operations for twelve months ended December 31, 2021 compared to the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 include the effect of the Panther Creek Acquisition (refer to Note 25 - Acquisitions" in notes to our financial statements) that closed on November 2, 2021. The Panther Creek Plant operates as part of our Energy Segment.
Including $3.8 million from the Panther Creek Plant, total revenue from all segments increased by $26.8 million, or 650.7%, to approximately $30.9 million primarily driven by large increases in both the energy and crypto asset mining revenues. Energy generation and the continued ramp up to full MW capacity contributed to approximately $11.4 million or 2189.9%. Additionally, total crypto asset revenue growth of approximately $14.2 million included approximately $2.0
million from hosting and an increase of $12.2 million from mining. The growth in the crypto asset mining revenue is the result of the significant ramp up of miner and transformer installations during the second half of 2021.
Including $5.8 million from the Panther Creek Plant, total operating expenses increased by $46.6 million or 714.2%; The increase in total operating expenses was partially attributable to increases of $12.8 million in fuel for the Scrubgrass Plant to produce higher MW capacity to provide power to the energy operations and cryptocurrency operations segments. The Scrubgrass Plant was relatively dormant for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020. Additionally, we experienced an increase of $12.2 million in operations and maintenance expenses related to the energy ramp-up requiring labor, vehicles, and major upgrades so the Scrubgrass Plant can be fully operational at the required higher capacities. Further, we had an increase of $12.7 million in general and administrative expenses due to legal and professional fees, consulting fees, stock compensation expenses, increased insurance costs, and compensation as we continue to organize and scale to a larger legal structure. Impairment costs of $1.9 million were attributed to the declines in the Bitcoin market pricing, primarily during the August 2021 to December 2021 timeframes. We also recorded $7.6 million in depreciation, an increase of approximately $7.0 million over the comparable period in 2020, due to the ramp-up of capital expenditures required for miners and transformers to grow the cryptocurrency hosting and mining infrastructures that produce increased hash rates.
During the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, other income (expense) amounted to $(5.1) million of expense compared to $2.3 million of income for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020. Interest expense increased in 2021 to $4.6 million compared to $205.5 thousand in December 31, 2020. The increase in interest expense was driven by $(1.1) million from changes in fair value of warrant liabilities, and $(116.5) thousand from changes in fair value of forward sale derivatives. We did not have outstanding warrants for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020 as the equity offerings occurred as part of the reorganization on April 1, 2021, and the subsequent private placement funding. During the twelve months ended December 31, 2021, we significantly improved our liquidity and capability to expand our power and mining assets through borrowings and master equipment financing agreements. As a result, the $(4.4) million increase in interest expenses, from this required financing, was realized so we could purchase miners and transformers to support the acceleration of the crypto asset ramp ups. Negative impacts of these increases are partially offset by the gains from the extinguishment of the $638.8 thousand PPP loan in January 2021. The prior comparable period, the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, benefited from the $1.2 million gains from closing out all derivatives (i.e. hedging positions), and $1.1 million in waste coal credits discussed above.
The below presents summarized results for our operations for the two reporting segments: Energy Operations and Cryptocurrency Operations.
|Twelve Months Ended|
|December 31, 2021||December 31, 2020||$ Change||% Change|
|Energy Operations||$||16,123,067 ||$||3,526,515 ||$||12,596,552 ||357.2 ||%|
|Cryptocurrency Operations||14,792,070 ||591,869 ||14,200,201 ||2,399.2 ||%|
|Total Operating Revenues||$||30,915,137 ||$||4,118,384 ||$||26,796,753 ||650.7 ||%|
|Net Operating Income/(Loss)|
|Energy Operations||$||(17,284,860)||$||(2,454,197)||$||(14,830,663)||604.3 ||%|
|Cryptocurrency Operations||$||(4,917,216)||48,960 ||(4,966,176)||(10,143.3)||%|
|Net Operating Income/(Loss)||$||(22,202,076)||$||(2,405,237)||$||(19,796,839)||823.1 ||%|
|Other Income, net (a)||(5,053,254)||2,260,243 ||$||(7,313,497)||(323.6)||%|
|Net Loss||$||(27,255,330)||$||(144,994)||$||(27,110,336)||18,697.6 ||%|
|Depreciation and Amortization|
|Energy Operations||$||(1,305,402)||$||(558,630)||$||(746,772)||133.7 ||%|
|Cryptocurrency Operations||(6,302,319)||— ||(6,302,319)||— ||%|
|Total Depreciation & Amortization||$||(7,607,721)||$||(558,630)||$||(7,049,091)||1,261.9 ||%|
|Cryptocurrency Operations||(4,541,789)||— ||(4,541,789)||— ||%|
|Total Interest Expense||$||(4,622,655)||$||(205,480)||$||(4,417,175)||2,149.7 ||%|
(a)We do not allocate other income, net for segment reporting purposes. Amount is shown as a reconciling item between net operating income/(losses) and consolidated income before taxes. Refer to our consolidated statement of operations for the twelve months ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 for further details.
Energy Operations Segment
|Twelve months ended December 31,|
|2021||% of Total||2020||% of Total||$ Change||% Change vs. 2020|
|Energy||$||11,870,817 ||73.6 ||%||$||518,397 ||14.7 ||%||$||11,352,420 ||2189.9 ||%|
|Capacity||$||4,238,921 ||26.3 ||%||$||2,816,457 ||79.9 ||%||$||1,422,464 |