As ERCOT Pushes Energy Conservation, Some Fear Crypto Biz Could Tank Texas’ Faulty Power Grid
Texans were asked to conserve energy during a warm spell last month, and this summer could break temperature records. Now, just a day into June, many Texans are already praying that the state’s power grid can handle the heat.
Meanwhile, Texas has positioned itself as a mecca for crypto-mining at the same time its energy grid still struggles to keep up. February 2021’s crushing winter storm prompted widespread power outages statewide and claimed at least 246 lives.
Crypto-mining operations, which verify transactions and create new coins, are energy-intensive because they require high-powered computers to produce the virtual currency. But while miners have promised to help return power to the grid during times of peak demand by shutting down, not everyone views crypto as a boon.
Texans will continue to see calls for conservation this summer, said Adrian Shelley, director of the Texas office for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.
Crypto is simply another strain on an already taxed grid, he said. The claims that the operations will spur investment in clean energy and provide grid stability don’t hold up under scrutiny.
“It’s just kind of common sense,” Shelley said. “If the miners weren’t here, then we wouldn’t have their demand on the grid to worry about. Once they’re here, they’re putting demand on the grid.”
Crypto-mining is coming to Texas because it bills itself as a haven for cheap and abundant energy, and because the state has a laissez-faire business climate, Shelley said. Some mining outfits that have altruistically vowed to shut down during tight demand likely would have anyway because they’d no longer be making money while energy prices surge.