Your daily dose of Austin
Smartphone image
Make your inbox more Austin.
Local news and fun, every day 6am.
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.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.