DICKENS COUNTY – A few miles north of Dickens town on a county gravel road is a 125,000-square-foot warehouse full of high-tech supercomputing equipment that appeared to appear almost overnight.
In 2019, Dickens County Judge Kevin Brendle received a random email that eventually led to this new data center starting about eight months ago. Now, the facility is producing Bitcoin at the gateway to the rolling plains.
The facility is Argo Blockchain’s new flagship cryptocurrency mining hub, called “Helios,” which opened the big fanfare on Thursday morning at the site between Afton and McAdoo.
Take a tour of the new center:A look at Dickens County’s new cryptographic mining center
The festivities at the grand opening on Thursday included speeches by elected officials and company executives, guided tours, a catering meal and live music. U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson, R-Yellow and Lubbock Republican State Representative Dustin Burrows and State Sen. Charles Perry were all present to congratulate the company and the community on their achievement.
Argo is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has offices in Quebec, Canada and Houston, but CEO Peter Wall says, “Now it’s headquartered here. We have more people employed in Dickens County than anywhere else. our main mining facility. This is a huge, huge place for us. “
Wall says the data center will be able to extract about 25 Bitcoin a day, or about five times the company’s current output. According to the Bitcoin value on Saturday, this would mean that the Dickens facility could generate about $ 900,000 in revenue per day for Argo, although Bitcoin values fluctuate enormously.
Photos:The Argo Blockchain cryptocurrency opens the flagship in Dickens County
Mining, says Wall, is basically the process of receiving new Bitcoin 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 use a bank, and the bank is the trusted third party,” Wall said. “In the Bitcoin network, you use a network of decentralized computers around the world. We’re part of that network.”
Why West Texas?
Argo has chosen Dickens County to build its 200-megawatt facility due to the abundant supply of cheap wind power, Wall said, which is important due to the company’s focus on sustainability as they plan to quadruple production at the Dickens facility in the near future. .
“The main thing you need to be a Bitcoin miner is energy, and what’s long in West Texas is energy, especially wind power,” Wall said, noting that energy in Dickens County costs less than half what it does in the facility. of the company in Quebec.
The people of the county also attracted them.
“The people of Dickens County are really talented and hardworking,” Wall said. “We now have 26 people employed in Dickens County and 45 in the region. We are now the largest employer in the county, in addition to school systems.”
County Judge Kevin Brendle, who jokingly referred to himself as “Bitcoin Brendle,” said Argo’s use of power and people is beneficial not only to the county but also to the community.
“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 for our school systems and our 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 housing so we can bring more people here, because what they are doing here, this facility, is just the first step.”
“The impact for our community is better jobs with benefits, insurance, retirement, vacations. It will be a tax advantage for our school districts and the county,” he added.
In addition, Brendle says computer facilities such as Argo’s could help stabilize the ERCOT network by using existing excess power and shutting it down when requested by the network operator.
“The energy they’re throwing away is called ‘excess energy.’ They’re not harnessing the energy that other businesses or households are using. very cheap for companies like Argo, “Brendle said. “But when the time comes when the ERCOT system needs it, they will send it back to the network.”
Several of the elected officials who spoke during Thursday’s ceremonies referred to Argo Helios’ facilities as “the tip of the iceberg,” and Brendle agrees with that assessment.
“I get calls from Bitcoin miners every week who want to move here,” Brendle said. “We’re not recruiting them. The hiring was done when renewable energy came. They’re coming. They’re coming.”