Quebec to maintain rates for digital currency miners, as demand grows
Hydro-Québec ordered to sell another 300 MW — enough energy to run an aluminum smelter — to bitcoin miners
Quebec's energy authority has ruled Hydro-Québec must maintain its existing rates for digital currency mining and make available another 300 megawatts — enough energy to power an aluminum smelter — for the production of cryptocurrencies.
The province stopped approving new digital currency mining projects last year so it could weigh restrictions on their operations and decide whether to raise the rates they pay for power.
Bitmain Technologies and other companies are eyeing sites in energy-rich Canada as digital currencies make price gains and countries like China plan to eliminate bitcoin mining.
Quebec's energy board, the Régie de l'énergie, said in a decision Hydro-Québec must set aside a combined 668 megawatts of hydroelectric power for digital currency mining. More than half of the energy is reserved for existing projects, with the remaining 300 megawatts aimed at new business.
The board also rejected a proposal by Hydro-Québec to have prospective miners bid for new projects.
Job creation, energy reuse favoured
According to the energy board's decision, Quebec will favour projects that create jobs or investments in the province and use the energy generated through mining for other purposes, like heating neighbouring buildings.
The miners will continue to pay either 3.46 cents or 5.03 cents per kilowatt hour, plus costs, depending on their agreement with the provincial utility.
Bitcoin mining consumes large quantities of energy because it uses computers to solve complex math puzzles to validate transactions in the cryptocurrency, which are written to the blockchain, or digital ledger. The first miner to solve the problem is rewarded in bitcoin, and the transaction is added to the blockchain.
"We don't think we will have any trouble attracting projects," said Hydro-Québec spokesperson Jonathan Côté.
With files from La Presse Canadienne