Soaring power demand sees Quebec raise prices for crypto-miners

June 20, 2018
Chris Wheal

The Canadian province of Quebec is to make electricity prohibitively expensive for miners of cryptocurrecies due to a massive surge in demand that is putting pressure on the region’s power producers.

Hydro-Quebec’s Outardes River Dam: Shutterstock

Regie de l’energie, the province’s energy regulator has authorised power utility Hydro-Quebec to charge 15 Canadian cents per kilowatt hour for the energy-hungry crypto-mining industry – that’s three times the price they’d previously enjoyed, according to Bloomberg.

Temporary measures

The new tariff is only expected to be temporary and will only be applied to new mining enterprises. Exsisting blockchain producers will remain on the same tariff.

Power rates in Quebec remain among the lowest in the whole of North America thanks to its rapid growth in hydro-electricity projects in recent decades.

Courting cryptocurrency miners

Indeed, only in the past few months Hydro-Quebec had been courting cryptocurrency miners as it sought to use up surplus energy produced by its dams in the north of the province.

Eric Filion, president of Hydro-Quebec Distribution, said in a statement earlier this month: “The blockchain industry is a promising avenue for Hydro-Quebec.

“Guidelines are nevertheless required to ensure that the development of this industry maximizes spinoffs for Quebec without resulting in rate increases for our customers. We are actively participating in the Regie de l’energie’s process so that these guidelines can be produced as quickly as possible.”

Demand too stong

Demand has been so strong from crypto-miners, however, that power companies and authorities have been compelled to put the tariff rises into action until they can develop some equitable pricing structure that suits all users.

Hydro-Quebec spokesman Jonathan Cote told Bloomberg on Tuesday: “We don’t want to send a message to the market that this is the price for cryptocurrencies in Quebec. It’s more that requests are suspended until we have the proper framework determining conditions for that market.”

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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