Canada could soon see cryptocurrency mining regulations introduced, as the Couillard government devised a framework in May 2018 that proposed selling excess power from Quebec’s hydroelectric plants to miners.
Quebec’s Mining Push
As per a report on Le Journal de Montreal, Canada’s Minister of Energy, Pierre Moreau, presented a decree to regulate the cryptocurrency mining industry on May 30, specifically the sector’s energy usage.
In March 2018, Hydro-Québec, Quebec’s hydroelectric power supplier, turned down requests from miners who flocked to the region in search of cheap power and cool climates. The company cited concerns that miners could “sap 25 percent of total output.”
Hydro-Quebec power generation dam. Source: Quebec Getaways
An estimated hundred mining companies made requests to the energy company, seeking an excess of 10 TeraWatt per hour (TWh) to operate their business.
However, Quebec seemingly realized the potential economic benefits that cryptocurrency miners could bring to the region and launched a survey into the matter. Fortunately, the most recent Auditor General report shows that a “recurring excess power” of 13 TWh was produced by Hydro-Quebec.
The energy provider was evidently caught off-guard, both with the assertion and the sector’s massive power requirements.
In January 2018, Hydro-Québec’s CEO Eric Martel said in an interview:
“We planned to sell nearly 5 TWh to this sector in the coming years. At first, we say “it’s fun, customers”. But there is a point where there are too many requests.”
Moreau then issued a quasi-moratorium, and added that controls and regulations should be introduced in the coming months so that “Hydro-Québec does not see all of its production capacity absorbed.”
Power Supply to Remain Conditional
As per the proposal, Hydro-Québec and Régie de l’énergie shall set different rates for cryptocurrency mining businesses, and introduce a “load shedding” measure – that shall cut power supply to these businesses when the citizens’ requirements are at maximum capacity.
Hydro-Québec Headquarters. Source: Strategy Online
Hydro-Québec spokesman Marc-Antoine Pouliot stated:
“The company’s mandate is to ensure the implementation of cryptocurrencies in Quebec by maximizing economic benefits and ensuring the stability of our electricity supply.”
However, the opposition remained skeptical and maintained that other pressing avenues require the government’s immediate attention and funds.
As it stands, the decree is still a proposal, and the 100 interested mining parties remain in limbo over their power-requirement request. For cryptocurrency miners, access to cheap energy is crucial for two reasons; running their mining rigs run around the clock and running cooling pipes to keep the machinery cool.