Bitcoin miners keep coming to Texas. No one knows how the fragile electric grid will be affected.

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The price of bitcoin hit an all-time high this week. And bitcoin miners continue to flock to Texas, drawn by the lack of a state income tax, and relatively affordable energy costs. But what impact will these computer-driven mining operations have on the state’s fragile power grid? Tech expert Omar Gallaga recently wrote about crypto mining’s power demands and environmental risks for the Austin American Statesman.

Gallaga told Texas Standard that while it’s clear bitcoin mining is energy-intensive, it’s hard to understand the true impact of the industry, because no one knows how many mining operations call Texas home.

Highlights from this segment:

– Bitcoin “mines” are large clusters of computers that run continuously, solving equations. Successfully doing so creates new bitcoin.

– Miners, many from China, have flocked to rural areas in Texas where space and energy are cheap.

– State leaders, including Gov. Greg Abbott, are bitcoin boosters. The state has so far made no moves to address potential impacts from bitcoin mining on the Texas power grid.

– Some bitcoin miners say they are working with local power providers to manage demand. Other operaters say they intend to transition to renewable energy sources when that is possible.

– Bitcoin mining generates electronic waste because of the amount of computer equipment required, and how quickly that equipment wears out and must be replaced.

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