British Columbia to halt new power connections for crypto miners

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A state-owned electric utility provider in the Canadian province of British Columbia is set to halt all new electricity-connection requests from cryptocurrency miners for a period of 18 months. 

The British Columbia government made the announcement in a statement on Dec. 21 stating that the pause will allow the government and BC Hydro to develop a permanent framework that can better balance the needs of crypto miners and both its residents and businesses in the region.

Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation said that the move was made to preserve the clean energy it provides for its residents and businesses that create jobs and are more environmentally friendly.

“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.”

At the moment, BC Hydro provides service to seven crypto-mining operations. Six more are in the advanced stages of connection to the system, totaling 273 megawatts — these are not expected to be impacted.

However, new cryptocurrency mining projects will not be able to initiate the process of connection with BC Hydro, and projects at the early stages of the connection process will also be halted, it said, adding that there are 21 cryptocurrency mining projects that are currently requesting a total of 1,403 megawatts of electricity.

The Ministry noted that this is equivalent to the energy needed to power approximately 570,000 homes or 2.1 million electric vehicles per year in the province.

Related: BTC energy use jumps 41% in 12 months, increasing regulatory risk

The British Columbia hydro and power authority released a report in Dec. 2022 titled Crypto conundrum, where it warned that an “unprecedented level” of requests for cryptocurrency mining operations could potentially strain the available energy supply and lead to higher electricity rates for residents of B.C. It noted:

“BC Hydro’s available energy could be challenged by cryptocurrency mining operations, which could mean less energy for greener pursuits such as electrification or hydrogen production, and higher electricity rates for British Columbians.”

Statista reported that in early 2022, Bitcoin’s annualized electricity consumption reached a record high, estimated to be higher than Finland’s total power consumption, at an estimated “204.5 TWh per year.”

New York recently imposed a moratorium on proof-of-work (PoW) mining, becoming the first US state to do so, prohibiting any new mining operations that aren’t based on 100% renewable energy.