More calls for transparency and change in Texas’ cryptocurrency industry

Advocacy groups want lawmakers to take action after Riot Platforms announced millions in earnings for powering down operations during peak demand times in August.

AUSTIN, Texas — More environmental and advocacy groups are calling on lawmakers to change how the state’s power grid operator incentivizes the cryptocurrency mining industry to save energy.

Representatives from groups including Public Citizen, Earthjustice, Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, Texas Coalition Against Cryptomining and Stand Up For Change held a virtual press conference on Friday to demand action after Riot Platforms announced last week that it made $31.7 million dollars from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, in August.

According to Riot’s most recent securities and exchange filing, Riot’s Rockdale facility is the largest Bitcoin mining data center in North America.

Last week, the KVUE Defenders revealed that Riot earned about $7 million in energy credits from ERCOT’s demand response program, which pays big companies to power down during peak demand periods. Riot earned a little more than $24 million from selling pre-purchased energy, which was found in the SEC filing.

Adrian Shelley, the Texas Director for Public Citizen, said incentivizing the crypto mining industry isn’t fair to residential customers.

“When you and I answer the call to conserve energy, we don’t get paid for that. We turn up our thermostats and we suffer in our homes. When the crypto industry shuts off its mines, it gets tens of millions of dollars from Texas taxpayers,” Shelley said.

Shelley and others want lawmakers to pay residential customers instead.

Dave Cortez with the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter said we have a failed energy regulatory system in Texas. 

“Everyday working Texans who are struggling to keep up with record high utility bills and a record hot summer. Riot is not the root of the problem. It is a symptom of an energy regulatory system that puts power and profits over the well-being of millions of Texans,” Cortez said.

Last week, Environment Texas blasted ERCOT’s demand response policy and expressed concern that the crypto mining industry will increase the strain on the state power grid.

KVUE reached out to Riot and have yet to hear back at the time of publication.

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