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Texas Bitcoin Miners Power Down as Heat Wave Threatens Grid With Rolling Blackouts

Nearly all industrial-level Bitcoin miners in Texas have fulfilled their promise to suspend operations while the state waits out a heat wave that’s expected to push its electricity grid to its limits.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which is responsible for managing the Texas grid, made a request yesterday that residents of the state make an attempt to conserve as much energy as they can to avoid the type of rolling blackouts that have plagued the state in summers and winters past. For example, power outages in 2021 during a harsh winter storm contributed to several hundred deaths state-wide.

Texas set an all-time peak record for energy use on Friday, consuming 78,206 megawatts of electricity, as reported by Bloomberg. The previous, unofficial record was set on July 5, clocking in at 77,460 megawatts.

Lee Bratcher, president of Texas Blockchain Association, told Bloomberg that over 1,000 megawatts in mining load have already responded to the state’s request. “This represents nearly all industrial scale Bitcoin mining load in Texas and allows for over 1% of total grid capacity to be pushed back onto the grid for retail and commercial use,” he said.

Texas has become one of the top U.S. destinations for miners due to both liberal regulations and highly welcoming leadership. Meanwhile, New York—one of its only rival states by hash rate (a measure of computing power)—has left carbon-based mining on a knife’s edge after the state senate passed a two-year moratorium on the practice last month.

Though Governor Kathy Hochul gets the final word, Kevin Zhang of Bitcoin mining company Foundry told CNBC last month that he believes miners are already being scared off from the state due to such policies.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has taken the opposite approach—one that’s arguably counter-intuitive. Abbott believes that inviting more miners to the Lone Star state could remedy its long unstable grid by incentivizing the creation of more power generation facilities.

Some of the state’s miners include North American giants like Riot Blockchain, Argo Blockchain, and Core Scientific. Despite a successful 2021, many of these firms were forced to sell substantial amounts of Bitcoin last month due to collapsing bear-market revenues.

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