Bitcoin and crypto mining computer machines in a big data center. High tech servers at work — Photo

British Columbia won’t offer electricity to new digital miners for 18 months

British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation has announced that it will be halting electricity supply to new digital asset miners in the region.

The ministry confirms that the temporary suspension of energy supply will last 18 months and will not affect mining firms already operating in the province. According to the press release, the suspension will allow regulators sufficient time to engage with the industry in crafting a permanent framework.

Another reason for pausing the supply of electricity to miners lies in the massive energy consumption of mining plants which regulators say might affect the region’s climate goals. Josie Osborne, head of the ministry, identified that the mining industry only provided jobs for only a fraction of citizens compared to other sectors.

“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,” said Osborne.

The minister stated that 21 mining operators are applying for a total of 1,403 megawatts (MW), which he says can power well over 500,000 homes or 2.1 million electric vehicles. Osborne added that it was imperative to channel the energy “to electrify projects that have greater jobs, economic development, and greenhouse gas reduction benefits.”

Currently, utility provider BC Hydro provides electricity for only seven mining firms, with six already approved to begin operations in the coming months. The suspension will not affect the six approved firms, and combined with the existing seven firms, the total electricity consumption is pegged at 273 watts.

In November, Manitoba’s government issued a similar directive, halting the energy supply for virtual currency miners to implement a new regulatory policy for the industry. Grid operator Hydro-Quebec announced higher rates for mining firms and a cap on the electricity amount miners could purchase.

Tough times for miners

As the year draws to a close, digital asset miners are going through a torrid patch characterized by stiffer regulations and crackdowns. At the start of December, Paraguayan legislators shut down a bill that would have subsidized the electricity supply for miners with the potential of attracting international firms.

In Kazakhstan, miners are exiting in trickles ahead of the passing of a bill that could impose double taxation on operators and impose a cap on electricity supply. In China, mining activity has been brought to a grinding halt, while miners in Iran, Malaysia, and Tajikistan have had their electricity supply affected over fears of energy shortages.

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