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A Row Erupts Over Texas' Bold Bitcoin Battery Plan

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Connections in a datacenter.

The plan to use crypto mines as giant batteries is controversial, to say the least.

Credit: Mark Felix/Getty Images

In February 2021, when 246 people in the US state of Texas lost their lives during a powerful storm and its ensuing blackout, the finger of blame was pointed at the state's faltering electricity grid. Texas, it would emerge, was uniquely ill-equipped to cope with such extreme weather. Built in a time when temperature swings were less extreme, the state's power plants struggled to operate, creating a supply crisis just as Texans ramped up demand by trying to keep warm. 

Texas found itself trapped and unable to pull power from farther afield, as its grid is isolated from the rest of the US—a measure designed to liberate the state from federal regulation. The brutal winter storm showed that Texas needed a plan to stabilize its grid. Now, it's found one: bitcoin mining.

It might seem counterproductive to invite energy-guzzling bitcoin miners onto a vulnerable grid, but the plan has the support of Texas governor Greg Abbott. In May 2021, Abbott signed into law the Virtual Currency Bill, which legitimized bitcoin and made it easier for miners to come to the state. As he embarks on a third term in office, Abbott says he intends to make Texas the "centerpiece" of the Bitcoin movement, which he describes as the "cutting edge of innovation."

From Wired
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