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Quebec Keeps Electricity Cheap for Crypto Miners Under New Rules

Apr 29, 2019, by Sandrine Rastello

Electricity will stay cheap for cryptocurrency miners in Quebec — as long as they get selected.

New rules released by the Canadian province’s energy regulator Monday create blockchain as a client category of its own and order utility Hydro-Quebec to set aside an extra 300 megawatt for the industry, on top of 368 megawatts already committed. Applying companies will be judged on four criteria, including the number of jobs created, planned investments and heat recovery plans for the energy-intensive computing process that makes transactions with digital currencies possible.

Regie de l’energie also rejected a proposal by provincial utility Hydro-Quebec to have miners bid for power. Blockchain clients will continue paying one of two tariffs they’ve been offered so far, in most cases the same as large consumers such as manufacturers and data centers.

The decision ends a moratorium that had been put in place to let the province figure out how to deal with requests from the energy-hungry industry. Quebec offers the lowest power rates in North America and saw surging demand. A survey of potential clients by Hydro-Quebec indicated there’s still demand for thousands of megawatts, even after the price of Bitcoin went down last year, spokesman Jonathan Cote said in an interview.

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