Ted Cruz says bitcoin will stabilize Texas electric grid—here’s why he’s wrong

A man in a open-collared shirt addresses a crowd with a mic.

Enlarge / Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. (credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks he has found a way to stabilize Texas’ electric grid in case another deep freeze hits the state. He wants to use the power of bitcoin.

“Because of the ability of bitcoin mining to turn on or off instantaneously, if you have a moment where you have a power shortage or a power crisis, whether it’s a freeze or some other natural disaster where power generation capacity goes down, that creates the capacity to instantaneously shift that energy to put it back on the grid,” Cruz told the Texas Blockchain Summit last week.

Now, there are a few reasons what he said doesn’t add up. But let’s start with his assumptions. First, large bitcoin-mining operations use hundreds or thousands of powerful computers, which create demand for power. If power plants can profitably mine bitcoin using the electricity they generate—and there are examples of that already—it stands to reason that bitcoin mining could create enough demand that investors would be enticed to build new power plants. Those plants could theoretically be tasked with providing power to the grid in cases of emergency.

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