Texas experienced a winter storm in December 2022, and Bitcoin miners helped restore up to 1,500 megawatts of power to the struggling local infrastructure. It was made possible by the state authorities’ supplementary services and the adaptability of mining operations.
A “bomb cyclone” unleashed extremely low temperatures in the days before Christmas, snatching away electricity from millions of Americans and taking hundreds of lives.
President of the Texas Blockchain Council Lee Bratcher said miners contributed up to 1,500 megawatts to the Texas grid in his reply to the Satoshi Action Fund. According to estimations by the Bitcoin advocacy group, this quantity of energy would be sufficient to heat “nearly 1.5 million tiny houses or maintain 300 large hospitals completely running.”
The worldwide hash rate for mining Bitcoin fell, although there is no information regarding the specific period during which miners collected such a large amount of power.
Although the particular time period in which miners accumulated this much power is unknown, but on December 24 and 25, Bitcoin’s hash rate decreased by 30% globally. The state’s ancillary services, which encourage consumers to cut back on consumption during periods of high demand to stabilize the grid, have miners as its ideal clients.
To ensure that additional big loads, such as Bitcoin miners, can be added to the ERCOT grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) devised an interim procedure back in March 2022. In addition, software vendors have also started collaborating with them to ensure miners have the equipment necessary to enable grid balancing properly. As a result, Texas, along with New York (19.9%), Kentucky (18.7%), and Georgia (17.3%), are among the top states in the United States for Bitcoin mining, each accounting for 14% of the total hash rate.
In October 2022, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and a group of six other US Senators targeted miners in Texas. All of them, Democrats, asked for information on the energy consumption and possible environmental impacts of Texas-based Bitcoin mining operations. In a letter to Pablo Vegas, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the senators stated their worries that mining operations would put additional strain on the state’s power grid and referred to Texas as a “deregulated safe harbour” for cryptocurrency mining firms.
The senators specifically requested information on Texas’s cryptocurrency miners’ electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions over the preceding five years.