Texas Bitcoin Miners Are Offered to Cut Electricity Usage to Help the Grid

Texas is offering an interim, voluntary power curtailment program for “Large Flexible Loads (LFL),” which will incentivize bitcoin miners to lower their power consumption during a period of high electricity demand.

The move will help the state’s grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), ease worries that the mining will put extra stress during periods of high system demand. “Due to the anticipated interconnection of an increasing number of large flexible Loads in the ERCOT Region, ERCOT is establishing an interim, voluntary curtailment program that would allow these Loads to assist ERCOT in ensuring reliability during periods of high system demand,” ERCOT said in a statement.

LFLs are large-scale power consumers that have the ability to turn on and off its electricity uses at a moment’s notice in order to divert energy to other grid participants. Bitcoin miners and data centers are the main type of LFLs that operate in Texas as they require immense amounts of energy and have been able to curtail their power consumption during the peak power demand, with a flick of a switch.

The temporary program is expected to go live around Jan. 1, 2023, but it might be terminated any time as ERCOT plans to develop a permanent reliability framework for LFLs in the future.

The miners have already been curtailing their operations during winter storms and heat waves in Texas, to serve the grid’s energy needs via so-called demand response programs. As participants of the program, the miners power down their operations in exchange for energy credits that they can use in the future, thus releasing power back to the struggling grid.

However, the practice has come under scrutiny recently as a group of seven Democratic lawmakers in Washington, D.C., led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren has questioned the impact of the miners power usage on the grid and how it's affecting the local consumers.

Earlier in July, the state’s Large Flexible Load Task Force already discussed the possibility of integrating bitcoin mining operations into the ERCOT system, which was described as “the core issues that must be resolved.”

Read more: The End of the Texas Bitcoin Mining Gold Rush