- Bitcoin miner Riot Blockchain is voluntarily powering down its operations ahead of a new major winter storm.
- Riot Blockchain is the biggest bitcoin miner in Texas and among the biggest publicly traded crypto mining firms.
- It initiated preparation to shut down its Whinstone facility Tuesday and will remain powered down until the extreme weather moves away.
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Bitcoin miner Riot Blockchain is voluntarily powering down its operations until the new major winter storm approaches to conserve energy for the Lone Star state's power grid.
Riot, the biggest bitcoin miner in Texas and among the biggest publicly traded crypto mining firms, initiated preparation to shut down its Whinstone facility Tuesday morning and will remain powered down until the extreme cold weather front moves away from the region, spokesperson Trystine Payfer told Insider Thursday.
The company's stock was down about 4%, trading at $14.94 as at 12:15 p.m. ET Thursday.
By Wednesday, Whinestone had slashed its energy use by roughly 98%. Payfer added Riot will wait until temperatures return to "normal" for the region.
The move seems to be an effort to better prepare for a possible repeat of February 2021, when a series of unusual winter storms brought freezing temperatures, snow, and ice, leaving millions of Texans without electricity or clean water. The unprecedented weather resulted to 210 deaths and led to more than $50 billion in damages, prompting the Biden Administration to declare a national disaster in the state.
At the time of that storm, Payfer said the Whinstone facility, located in Rockdale, Texas, began powering down the site on February 11, 2021 and was completely off by February 12. Whinstone did not restore 100% of the power until February 19, 2021.
This year's winter storm is also proving to be powerful with around 68,000 power outages already reported in Texas Thursday morning, according to poweroutage.us, a website that tracks outages nationwide.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a Wednesday press conference said "no one can guarantee" power outages won't happen again as the state prepares for freezing and inclement weather, despite previous assurances the grid had been upgraded and fixed.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state's grid operator, has 8,737 MW in the reserves as of Thursday morning. While Riot powered down voluntarily, ERCOT could request industrials to reduce energy consumption for a fee through its demand response programs.
Texas has been a growing hub for bitcoin mining with its cheap electricity, pro-crypto politicians, and the state's increasing use of renewable energy.