B.C. putting 18-month freeze on new cryptocurrency mining hookups to BC Hydro

The B.C. government is putting an 18-month freeze on cryptocurrency mining hookups through BC Hydro. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The British Columbia government is moving to block new cryptocurrency mining operations from drawing power from BC Hydro for 18 months.

In a media release Wednesday, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation said it was directing the B.C. Utilities Commission, temporarily relieving the Crown corporation from the obligation to connect to new mining operations. The 18-month window will give the government time to work out a permanent framework on cryptocurrency mining energy usage with industry and First Nations, it said.

The ban would target cryptocurrency miners who have yet to connect to the grid, or who were in the early stages of getting hooked up. Existing miners and those who are “well advanced” in the BC Hydro connection process would not be affected.

Story continues below advertisement

“Cryptocurrency mining consumes massive amounts of electricity to run and cool banks of high-powered computers 24-7-365, while creating very few jobs in the local economy,” Energy Minister Josie Osborne said in a statement.

“We are suspending electricity connection requests from cryptocurrency mining operators to preserve our electricity supply for people who are switching to electric vehicles and heat pumps, and for businesses and industries that are undertaking electrification projects that reduce carbon emissions and generate jobs and economic opportunities.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan oil companies power cryptocurrency mining'
Saskatchewan oil companies power cryptocurrency mining

According to the ministry, B.C.’s hydro-powered energy grid has attracted “unprecedented” interest from cryptocurrency miners.

BC Hydro is currently facing requests from 21 projects with a projected power usage of 1,403 megawatts.

Story continues below advertisement

According to the ministry, that would be enough energy to power 570,000 homes or 2.1 million electric vehicles for a year.

Currently, BC Hydro is serving seven crypto-mining operations and has six in the advanced stages of connection, totaling 273 megawatts of power.

Manitoba moved in November to suspend new crypto power hookups while it conducts its own regulatory review, while Hydro-Quebec recently introduced a new framework that includes higher rates and a cap on usage for crypto miners.

Sponsored content