Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas paid a bitcoin miner more than $31 million to power down during heat wave

The cryptocurrency bitcoin
Dado Ruvic
The cryptocurrency bitcoin

Get TPR's best stories of the day and a jump start to the weekend with the 321 Newsletter — straight to your inbox every day. Sign up for it here.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) paid a bitcoin miner $31.7 million in energy credits in August to not mine bitcoin.

During the August heat wave, ERCOT issued eight calls for voluntary energy conservation.

People were asked to adjust home thermostats or delay doing laundry during the energy call.

But for the bitcoin miner Riot — located in Rockdale —it was an opportunity to cash in.

According to the company’s monthly report, it curtailed its power usage by more than 95% during peak demand by powering down its computers that were grinding out bitcoins.

"Texas experienced another month of extreme heat in August 2023, causing demand for electricity to spike, in some cases approaching total available supply,"the company said in a statement.

"Riot continued to execute its power strategy by curtailing its power usage by more than 95% during periods of peak demand, forgoing revenue from its Bitcoin mining operations to instead provide energy resources to ERCOT. The company’s curtailment of operations meaningfully contributed to reducing overall power demand in ERCOT, helping to ensure that consumers did not experience interruptions in service.

Riot received an estimated $24.2 million in power curtailment credits under its contract with ERCOT and $7.4 million from ERCOT’s demand response program.

Riot made more from energy credits in August than it did from actual bitcoin mining.

The company has plans to build another facility in Corsicana, with 1GW of capacity approved by ERCOT.

The credits Texas offers to the bitcoin mining industry has made it a sought-after state for these companies to do business.

A bill that would have done away with those credits passed the State Senate earlier this year, but it failed to advance past committee in the House. The Texas Legislature ended up passing two bills that expand the credits. They took effect Sept. 1.

Copyright 2023 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.

David Martin Davies