Environmental and advocacy groups are urging lawmakers to take action in response to Riot Platforms’ substantial earnings from powering down operations during peak demand times in August. These groups are calling for a change in how the state’s power grid operator incentivizes the cryptocurrency mining industry to save energy. 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 immediate action.
According to Riot’s recent securities and exchange filing, its Rockdale facility stands as the largest Bitcoin mining data center in North America. The KVUE Defenders recently uncovered that Riot earned approximately $7 million in energy credits from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)’s demand response program. This program compensates large companies for reducing their energy consumption during peak demand periods. Additionally, Riot earned over $24 million from selling pre-purchased energy, as revealed in the same filing.
Adrian Shelley, the Texas Director for Public Citizen, expressed concern about the fairness of incentivizing the crypto mining industry while disregarding residential customers. Shelley argued, “When you and I answer the call to conserve energy, we don’t get paid for that. We turn up our thermostats and suffer in our homes. When the crypto industry shuts off its mines, it receives tens of millions of dollars from Texas taxpayers.”
Shelley and other advocates are advocating for lawmakers to allocate payments to residential customers instead of the crypto mining industry. Dave Cortez from the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter criticized the energy regulatory system in Texas, stating that it prioritizes power and profits over the well-being of millions of Texans. Cortez highlighted the struggles faced by everyday working Texans, who are burdened by soaring utility bills and a record-breaking hot summer.
Environment Texas also criticized ERCOT’s demand response policy and expressed concerns about the crypto mining industry further straining the state’s power grid. The group fears that increased demand from mining operations could exacerbate the existing strain on the grid.
At the time of publication, KVUE reached out to Riot for comment but had not received a response. Advocacy groups continue to push for a resolution to the issue, highlighting the need for a fair and sustainable energy regulatory system in Texas.
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