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Central Texas Bitcoin mining companies halt major energy use to help state power grid in storm

Riot Blockchain says it has decreased its power consumption by 98-99%.

Bitcoin facilities are slowing down mining operations to ease the strain on the Texas power grid as the state battles freezing temperatures.

CEOs for Riot Blockchain Inc. and Whinstone—the data center that’s a subsidiary of Riot and located in nearby Rockdale, east of Taylor—told Gov. Greg Abbott this week plans to “shut down” mining operations ahead of the storm. They also signed a Texas Blockchain Council letter to Abbott communicating a similar commitment.

In an email to Austonia, Riot spokesperson Trystine Payfer said the company is currently using 1-2% of power and will continue to do so until “there is no extreme stress on the ERCOT grid.”

Its center began preparing energy curtailments on Tuesday at 9 a.m., continuing to decrease power consumption as the storm has progressed. “We value our relationship with our surrounding community in Rockdale, and Texas as a whole, so we are prepared to support this event with the resources we have,” Payfer said.

Texas Blockchain Council has not responded to a request from Austonia to verify the letter’s contents, but Crypto news site Cointelegraph reports obtaining the letter, which says:

“As Texans, we want you to know that we are actively monitoring the incoming cold front, as we would any seasonal weather event,” Reed Clay, vice president of TBC wrote to Abbott. “Likewise, we are taking proactive measures to shut down operations, shed load and create additional capacity in response to ERCOT’s needs should it be necessary.”

This proactive measure comes as blockchain operations are motivated to avoid regulation and heightened scrutiny over energy use.

Mining bitcoin—the most popular cryptocurrency—requires mammoth amounts of energy. Analysis by University of Cambridge scientists has also found that in a year, mining consumes more energy than Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft combined.


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