Bitcoin Miners Powered Off as Winter Storm Battered North America

Computing power on the Bitcoin network dropped about 40% over the weekend.

AccessTimeIconDec 26, 2022 at 10:54 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:05 a.m. UTC

Crypto miners across the U.S. powered down over the weekend as a powerful storm swept across North America.

The bitcoin mining hashrate, a measure of computing power on the blockchain, dropped about 100 exahash per second (EH/s), or 40%, to 156 EH/s, between Dec. 21 and Dec. 24, data from shows. It returned to about 250 EH/s as of Sunday.

The practice, known as curtailment, is touted as a way for miners to help electricity grids. The miners' steady demand ensures power producers are bringing in revenue to offset costs, but they can power off when demand from other sources is high, such as during winter storms.

The U.S. and Canada have been hit by an Arctic storm that sent temperatures as low as -50°F (-45°C) in the western U.S. state of Montana, according to the BBC, and covered western New York state with as much as 43 inches of snow. At least 37 people died as result of the storm, CNN reported.

Foundry USA, the biggest mining pool in the U.S., lost more than half of its hashrate on Dec. 23 – the biggest loss of any major pool – according to statistics from information platform Mining Pool Stats. Foundry is owned by CoinDesk’s parent company, Digital Currency Group.

Some of the U.S.’ biggest miners also curtailed operations. These included Riot Blockchain (RIOT) and Core Scientific (CORZ), which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last Wednesday. In Texas, 99% of industrial-scale bitcoin mining load was turned off at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Lee Bratcher, founder and president of industry group Texas Blockchain Council, said in a LinkedIn post.

Dennis Porter, who advocates for the industry through the nonprofit Satoshi Action Fund, said the miners’ curtailment is proof that they are supporting the electric grid.

Denis Rusinovich, a Europe-based miner, tweeted that the big drop in computing power is “another confirmation that bitcoin's geographical diversification is vital.”


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Eliza Gkritsi is CoinDesk's crypto mining reporter.

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