Quebec guarantees more power, stable costs for crypto miners

Quebec is looking to provide a bit more stability for cryptocurrency miners. In a Canadian province that already has attractive electricity rates, they will guarantee a reserved portion of their power grid for a few lucky companies.

In an April 29 announcement, the Régie de L’Énergie (Energy Board) of Quebec have created a new client category for crypto miners, and guaranteed Hydro-Quebec (the local power company) would set aside 300 additional megawatts, on top of the 368MW already committed, for their use.

To be eligible for this sweet deal, companies have to apply for the new client category and prove they are worthy. To get admitted, the Régie will analyze the number of jobs the company creates, how much the plan to invest in the province, and how they will handle heat recovery from equipment that runs hot.

They also rejected Hydro Quebec’s preference that crypto miners bid on power supply. Instead, miners will continue paying a tariff, very much like manufacturers in the province have to pay.

Quebec initially had an anti-mining stance, banning the activity for fear that it would drive up energy costs in the province. In May 2018, it reversed that stance, possibly to capitalize on its status as a low-cost destination, while other countries also added their own bans.

Since July 2018, Hydro Quebec has charged CAD 0.15 ($0.11) per kilowatt-hour for cryptocurrency miners, which is double the rate that residential customers pay.

As a result of those relatively low costs, Quebec has become a prime destination for crypto mining. Even in mid-2018, the province said that a quarter of all its energy was going towards the activity. Bitfarms has since made a major investment there, buying out Volta Electrique and installing 6,500 ASICs.

Quebec’s new policy of offering stability to mining firms, so long as their agenda lines up with that of the economic and environmental well-being of the province, looks like a win-win situation. Quebec gets a bunch of investment and well-paid jobs, and the miners get stable electricity costs, which can be difficult to come by otherwise.

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