At least one big bitcoin mining operation in Texas that was not actually mining much bitcoin during this season’s record-breaking heat netted millions of dollars in profits—more than they would have if they just kept on mining without any shutdowns. It’s thanks to power purchase agreements signed with the local grid, allowing them to sell electricity they purchased earlier back to the provider for a tidy sum.
Riot Blockchain itself announced it had made an estimated $9.5 million in power credits thanks to the multiple times it shut down its mining rigs. This was even more than the amount the company gained in selling bitcoin that month. The company’s page said it sold 275 bitcoin, with net proceeds equalling just $5.6 million. This is compared to last year when the company said it produced 444 bitcoin, worth approximately $16 million just before the price of BTC really spiked toward the tail end of 2021.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas—AKA ERCOT—had asked businesses to routinely power down in order to conserve electricity throughout July. Riot and its massive 750-megawatt bitcoin mining facility in Rockdale, Texas reduced power multiple times during times of peak demand. Of course, many of the dozens of large-scale bitcoin mining operations also cut activity during the past month to not over-stress the often overtaxed grid, but Riot remains the largest token miner in the Lone Star State.
The amount of bitcoin produced during this past month was 318, 28% less than the same month last year. While the companies did publicly agree to shutdowns in order to preserve the grid, they were also avoiding scaling electricity prices during peak loads.
ERCOT provides power purchase agreements that are usually termed for one year, but Lee Bratcher, the president of the Texas Blockchain Council, told Gizmodo in a phone interview that only a handful of the biggest bitcoin miners actually have these PPAs. The ones that do, like Riot, can take advantage of the need to curtail power, while other miners simply have to make do.
The Texas Blockchain Council networks and promotes the many crypto mining operations in the state. Bratcher called these PPAs “a good deal” for ERCOT, since it can regain the power needed for the rest of its grid during peak times.
At the same time, the massive draw of these mining operations is only expected to increase. Texas’ grid system has said that Texas crypto miners will put a six gigawatt-demand on the grid by next year. Congressional Democrats have warned the seven largest mining rigs in the U.S. draw power equivalent to all the residential homes in the city of Houston. These crypto miners are only expected to get bigger over time.