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Texas Bitcoin Miners File Lawsuit Against Government Over Energy Data Collection

Bitcoin miners in Texas have filed a lawsuit accusing the Department of Energy of trying to collect data illegally after the department asked that they disclose their electricity consumption.

The Texas Blockchain Council called the request “an unprecedented and illegal data collection demand” in a letter sent to the Energy Information Administration at the end of last week.  

The EIA backed down and said it would not enforce the mandatory energy consumption survey on the bitcoin miners, instead using data it already had, Bloomberg reported.

Bitcoin miners in the United States consume as much electricity as the state of Utah, a survey released by the EIA earlier this month revealed. Per that survey, bitcoin miners used electricity accounting for between 0.6% and 2.3% of total national demand last year.

The sale of electricity consumption for the bitcoin mining industry has prompted concern about grid security among regulators and legislators. There are currently 137 bitcoin-mining facilities across the U.S., located in 21 states, per data from the Energy Information Administration. A lot of them relocated from China after Beijing banned bitcoin mining three years ago.

“CBECI [Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index] estimates put electricity supporting Bitcoin mining in 2023 at about 0.2% to 0.9% of global demand for electricity,” according to the EIA. “Based on those estimates, global electricity use in cryptocurrency mining was about the same as total electricity consumption in Greece or Australia, respectively.”

It appears, however, that Bitcoin miners do not necessarily consume all of that electricity themselves. Per the Bloomberg report above, there is a practice to pre-buy certain amounts of electricity and if any of that is left unused, it is fed into the grid at a time of tight supply. Last year, one of the big players in Texas, Riot Platforms, raked in $71 million from pre-buying and reselling electricity.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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