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Texas crypto miners prepare for summer power grid conditions as ERCOT expects record demand

Cryptocurrency mining facilities use massive amounts of energy to operate but are also able to shut down if grid conditions tighten.

AUSTIN, Texas — Earlier this week, ERCOT released its summer forecast. State leaders expect record-high energy demand this summer but add they're confident the grid will be able to handle the demand.

Yet, some worry that high temperatures and big power users will put too much pressure on the grid. So now, some of the state's big power users, like cryptocurrency mining facilities, are trying to ease fears.            

One cryptocurrency miner in Rockdale, Texas, uses at least 400 megawatts of energy. For context, that’s enough to power a large city.

ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission of Texas expressed satisfaction with how the unregulated industry has responded to the state's tight grid conditions at different points throughout the month.

"They performed admirably as we would have expected them to," ERCOT Interim CEO Brad Jones said.

“They all worked with ERCOT and, in their own way, some of them shut off completely. Some of them curtailed portions of their load at ERCOT’s request. Each miner, it's really specific and it depends on the situation,” said Lee Bratcher, head of the Texas Blockchain Council.

The group represents the bitcoin mining industry in Texas. Bratcher said miners do not have to shut down to help stabilize the grid. But the tighter the grid conditions, the higher the energy prices.

So, if the price is right in their area, miners will shut down and sell power back to ERCOT to help stabilize it. In some cases, like this past weekend, they make thousands of dollars per megawatt-hour.

But miners can't all turn off at once.

“You just want to coordinate that so there's no damage to infrastructure, electrical infrastructure. The ERCOT is constantly managing and monitoring the frequency of the grid," Bratcher said. 

It's an issue ERCOT's Large Flexible Load Task Force and miners are trying to work to improve, especially with the large facilities being brought on faster than ERCOT said it has ever had to accommodate.

But when conditions get tight, Bratcher said crypto miners will be ready.

“So any way you slice it, they're part of the solution,” he said.

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