Elizabeth Warren presses Texas on crypto miners’ energy use

She and other senators want answers on how the mining industry is affecting the state’s grid.

Elizabeth Frantz / reuters

Elizabeth Warren and six other Democratic senators are pressing Texas’ energy regulator on whether the crypto mining industry is putting additional strain on the state’s grid, and its impact on climate change.

In a letter to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the senators note that “cryptomining companies are flooding into states like Texas,” and raise questions about the industry’s impact on the state’s grid, which is already in a precarious position during major storms and other periods of high demand. “The Texas grid is particularly vulnerable given that it is the only independent state grid in the country, and does not interconnect to other states – meaning it has no buffer if there is a shortfall in supply,” the letter notes.

The senators also take issue with the payments mining companies receive from ERCOT at times of high demand. “In simple terms, the Bitcoin miners make money from mining that produces major strains on the electric grid: and during peak demand when the profitability of continuing to mine decreases, they then collect subsidies in the form of demand response payments when they shut off their mining operations and do nothing,” the letter says. “These subsidies to cryptominers also feed back into the worsening climate crisis. The energy used to mine Bitcoin and Ethereum in 2021 resulted in almost 80 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

The letter asks for details on the amount of energy consumption used by crypto mining companies over the last five years, as well if residential electricity rate hikes have coincided with crypto miners’ arrival in the state.