Democrats are pressing Texas energy regulators to disclose how much energy crypto mining companies consume from the state’s vulnerable power grid nearly a year after it failed during an extreme winter storm.
In the Wednesday letter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and six other Democrats pressed Texas grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, for information detailing how much electricity crypto mining operations have consumed and how much carbon dioxide emissions they’ve released over the last six years.
“I’ve been working for the last year to make sure the public understands the economic and climate risks from crypto,” Warren said in a statement to The Verge on Wednesday. “Cryptominers’ energy use rivals that of entire countries, and taxpayers — in Texas or anywhere in the nation — shouldn’t subsidize their profits, especially when the energy grid is on the verge of collapse.”
“Cryptominers’ energy use rivals that of entire countries, and taxpayers — in Texas or anywhere in the nation — shouldn’t subsidize their profits, especially when the energy grid is on the verge of collapse.”
The lawmakers also want to know how much Texas regulators are paying mining companies to turn down energy consumption during peak demand periods. In August, Bloomberg reported that Texas-based crypto mining companies earned millions of dollars in credits from the state for shutting down operations during an extreme heat wave over the summer. One company, Riot Blockchain, received around $9.5 million in credits this past July alone, Bloomberg reported.
Over the last ten years, around 30 crypto mining companies have put up shop in Texas, encouraged by acres of open land, low state taxes, and cheap energy, according to the Texas Tribune. Crypto mining is predicted to increase demand on the grid by over 27 gigawatts by 2026, according to a July Verge report.
That mounting intensity for energy has spooked critics who fear the crypto industry’s growing demand could further cripple the state’s already fragile electricity grid. In February 2021, Texas’s power grid crashed during an extreme winter storm, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
“Cryptomining is adding significant demand to an already unreliable grid . . . and contributing to the global climate crisis,” the lawmakers wrote in the Wednesday letter.
Still, these concerns haven’t stopped Republicans like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott from inviting crypto mining companies to relocate to the state.
“Count me in as a crypto law proposal supporter,” Abbott tweeted last year. “Texas should lead on this like we did with a gold depository.