Bitcoin Mines Threaten to Crash the Texas State Power Grid

GRANBURY, TEXAS — Cheryl Shadden cannot sleep. The 61-year-old nurse, who works at hospitals giving patients anesthesia, says she is kept up at night by the nonstop mechanical whir of fans spinning to cool tens of thousands of computers.

Shadden lives in Granbury, Texas, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, with her seven dogs, six horses, six cats and a parrot. In 2022, after 23 years in the area, Shadden got a new neighbor: a 300-megawatt Bitcoin facility, referred to as a “mine,” where computers run around the clock to help maintain a global network of transactions in the cryptocurrency.

“Nobody in their right mind would live here,” Shadden said. “My windows rattle. The sound goes through my walls. My ears ring, 24/7.”

Noise pollution is not the only reason that Bitcoin mining may be keeping Texans up at night. The mine owned and operated by Marathon Digital is part of a growing tide of cryptocurrency mining facilities opening across the country, but especially in Texas, where taxes are low, land is plentiful and mining companies can take advantage of the state’s deregulated energy market. As electricity demand rises, ordinary Texans can end up paying the price on their monthly utility bills.

Bitcoin is the largest and best known cryptocurrency, first devised in 2008 as an electronic payment system that cuts out middlemen like banks and credit card companies, with all transactions managed by a decentralized network of Bitcoin users. A Bitcoin, currently worth about $58,000, can be purchased with dollars at a Bitcoin exchange, like Coinbase. To buy something with Bitcoin, a buyer sends the currency from a digital wallet to the seller’s digital wallet.

But it’s not that simple. A computer algorithm assigns each transaction a unique random identifying code, which must be guessed in order to validate the transaction. Bitcoin “mining” comes when companies operate powerful computers day and night running endless series of random numbers before hitting upon, or guessing, the correct code. Every time a Bitcoin miner’s computer successfully guesses a transaction code, the miner receives 3.125 newly minted Bitcoins (worth about $181,250 at the current price), which is the fee for helping maintain the network and keep it secure.

Texas does not like regulations of all sorts, except for abortion.

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Just what I was thinking. Zoning and building codes “burden business and kill jobs”.

Steve

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Sure. Instead we’ll just burden homeowners and kill children. Fair trade off.

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As we know, Proles are expendable meat. Only the ease of the “JCs” matters.

Steve