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The city of Fort Worth, Texas is tentatively entering the Bitcoin mining industry at a government level. The six-month pilot program should establish the area as a welcoming blockchain hub.
Miners at City Hall
On Tuesday, the Fort Worth city council voted unanimously on a resolution to accept a donation of three Bitcoin miners.
The miners – a Texas Blockchain Council donation – are worth $2,100 each. As CNBC reports, the Bitmain Antminer S9 mining rigs will mine Bitcoin 24/7 for six months. Then, they will return to the council – a nonprofit focusing on promoting crypto adoption across the state.
It is indeed a small pilot: each miner only consumes the energy of a standard household vacuum cleaner, according to the city’s estimates. However, it’s a step that even Miami has not taken, where the popular Bitcoin-loving mayor is accepting a crypto-based salary.
The miners will operate in the climate-controlled IT wing of Fort Worth City Hall. They’ll also run on a private network in order to minimize security risk. Overall, the Bitcoin that the pilot generates is expected to outstrip the miner’s operation costs.
The pilot has multiple objectives, including adding Bitcoin to the city’s balance sheet, and supporting the industry more broadly. For Mayor Mattie Parker, the most important thing is putting Fort Worth on the map through tech innovation, including cryptocurrency.
“What is the future? I believe cryptocurrency will be a piece of that,” said Parker in a CNBC interview.
Texas, Mining, and the Grid
Parker made clear that she recognized the potential for Bitcoin miners to stabilize her state’s electricity grid.
Texas suffered from major blackouts in the early winter of 2021 due to excessive power demand, leaving hundreds dead. As such, Texas governor Greg Abbot has been encouraging Bitcoin miners to enter the state, hoping to incentivize power production.
The approach is counter-intuitive, given that Bitcoin mining has often been associated with causing blackouts, due to excessive power consumption.
The theory, however, is that Bitcoin miners can operate as energy buyers of last resort in times of low demand. This way, energy producers may remain profitable – especially those using intermittent power sources like wind and solar. As reported in December, an upcoming multi-billion dollar Texas data center plans to do just that.
Governor Abbot has already arranged for the state’s largest miners to suspend operations on-demand, should another energy crisis arise.