DICKENS COUNTY – Nestled a few miles north of the town of Dickens on a gravel county road is a 125,000 square foot warehouse filled with high-tech supercomputing equipment that seemed to appear almost overnight .
In 2019, Dickens County Judge Kevin Brendle received a random email that ultimately led to the grand opening of this new data center about eight months ago. Now the facility is producing Bitcoin in the Rolling Plains Gateway.
The facility is Argo Blockchain’s new flagship cryptocurrency mining hub, dubbed “Helios,” which opened to much fanfare Thursday morning at the site between Afton and McAdoo.
Visit the new center:A Look at Dickens County’s New Crypto-Mining Center
Thursday’s grand opening festivities included speeches from elected officials and business leaders, guided tours, a catered meal and live music. U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo and Republican Lubbock State Representative Dustin Burrows and State Senator Charles Perry were all on hand to congratulate the company and the community on the achievement.
Argo is based in the UK with offices in Quebec, Canada and Houston, but CEO Peter Wall says: “It’s sort of based here now. We have more people employed in Dickens County than anywhere else. This is our flagship mining facility. It’s a huge, huge place for us.
Wall says the data center will be able to mine around 25 Bitcoins per day, which is around five times the company’s current output. Based on Saturday’s Bitcoin value, that would mean the Dickens facility could generate around $900,000 in revenue per day for Argo, although Bitcoin values fluctuate wildly.
Pictures:Argo Blockchain Cryptocurrency Opens Flagship in Dickens County
Mining, says Wall, is essentially the process of receiving new bitcoins as a reward for verifying other bitcoin transactions through complex mathematical calculations on a computer network.
“In our current financial system, if I’m going to send you money from one place to another, you’re using a bank, and the bank is the trusted third party,” Wall said. “In the Bitcoin network, you use a network of decentralized computers spread all over the world. We are part of this network.
Why West Texas?
Argo chose Dickens County to build its 200-megawatt facility because of the plentiful supply of inexpensive wind power, Wall said, which is important because of the company’s focus on sustainability. as it plans to quadruple production at the Dickens facility in the near future.
“The main thing you need to be a bitcoin miner is electricity, and what’s great in West Texas is electricity, especially wind power,” he said. said Wall, noting that electricity in Dickens County costs less than half of what it does at the company’s plant in Quebec.
The people of the county also attracted them.
“The people of Dickens County are really talented and hard working,” Wall said. “We currently have 26 people employed in Dickens County and 45 in the area. We are now the largest employer in the county, excluding school systems. »
County Judge Kevin Brendle — who jokingly called himself “Bitcoin Brendle” — said Argo’s use of power and people benefits not only the county, but the community as well.
“What Argo brings to Dickens County is hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure, which will equate to millions of dollars in tax revenue over the next five years that will go into our school systems and county budgets. “Brendle said. “It will bring people to work who will spend their money here, and at some point we hope to expand our accommodations so that we can bring more people here, because what they are doing here, this installation, is only the first step.”
“The impact on our community is better jobs with benefits, insurance, retirement, vacations. It will be a tax windfall for our school districts and the county,” he added.
Additionally, Brendle says IT facilities like Argo’s could help stabilize the ERCOT grid by using existing excess electricity and shutting down at the request of the grid operator.
“The energy they draw is called ‘surplus energy.’ that there’s no offloading, so the company is able to sell that excess power very cheaply to companies like Argo,” Brendle said. “But, when the time comes when the system ERCOT will need it, they will send it back to the network.”
Several of the elected officials who spoke at Thursday’s ceremonies called the Argo Helios facility “the tip of the iceberg,” and Brendle agrees with that assessment.
“I get calls every week from bitcoin miners who want to move here,” Brendle said. “We don’t hire them. Recruitment was done when renewable energies arrived. They arrive. They arrive.”