Governor Greg Abbott of Texas Is Inviting Bitcoin Miners to Help Stabilize the State’s Electrical Grid
His endorsement of the business may be a counterintuitive and hazardous move designed to shore up a perceived weakness among voters.
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has made a concerted push in recent months to recruit the cryptocurrency business to his state. Apart from being profitable, he thinks that the expansion of Bitcoin miners may help stabilise Texas’ electrical infrastructure, which has struggled to keep up with demand.
Bitcoin mining has often been criticised for being energy-intensive, a cost that many feel is not justified in terms of environmental impact. However, an increasing number of Texas politicians, like Senator Ted Cruz and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, see it as a way to address other energy-related challenges. This includes Governor Abbott, who expects that by attracting Bitcoin mining to the state, electricity suppliers would step up and invest in more infrastructure, which will benefit everyone.
The majority of voters in the Lone Star State disapprove of the way the Texas electrical system has been managed, with the grid often failing to deliver enough cheap electricity during peak periods. Last winter, power shortages caused several hundred fatalities in the state due to a severe storm.
Abbott’s is a high-risk gamble for the grid, but one that Bitcoiners have pushed for years. On the one hand, the sector provides an enormous financial incentive to increase energy production. On the other hand, it eventually entails increasing demand and stress on an already frail grid.
The governor is relying on Bitcoin miners to halt operations when directed to do so—particularly during periods of increased energy consumption. This strategy would be similar to that used by Iran, which has put a winter-long ban on Bitcoin mining in order to avert future blackouts. Though critics contend that mining enterprises cannot afford to halt and restart production for lengthy periods of time, two miners in the state have already decided to voluntarily suspend operations when energy becomes short.
“It’s a very healthy dynamic that generates tax money, creates jobs, and also acts as a grid-strengthening mechanism,” Texas Blockchain Council President Lee Bratcher told Bloomberg in an interview. “Governor Abbott has been a tremendous supporter.”
When Congress convenes on Thursday to debate cryptocurrency’s environmental effect, it will highlight a growing issue for Bitcoin miners: the idea, justified or not.
The Texas Blockchain Council reports that the state is home to at least 27 mining operations. More are on the way, including Foundry, which is supported by the Digital Currency Group.
Miners’ development has been particularly rapid in the area as a result of other nations’ outright prohibition of the proof-of-work mechanism. China, once the world’s largest Bitcoin mining country, has evicted its miners as part of a broader crackdown on cryptocurrencies, forcing many to escape to the United States. Meanwhile, Kosovo has banned it on the more obvious grounds that it is straining the system and driving up energy costs.
The migration has served as a counter-argument to environmentalists’ opposition to the sector. In contrast to China’s polluting coal mining, many miners expanding in Texas and around the United States rely on renewable energy. Last year, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Block, and Cathie Wood, CEO of ARK Invest, produced a joint report proposing that Bitcoin may genuinely incentivise the development of green energy.