Category Archives: Hydro-Quebec

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Canada Awards 300MW Block to Lure Bitcoin Miners

Canada Awards 300MW Block to Lure Bitcoin Miners (1)

Canada’s largest power company, Hydro-Quebec, has now announced that it will set aside a dedicated 300 megaWatt block of electricity, specifically for the use of Bitcoin mining activities. This now brings the total power allocation to the blockchain sector in the region to 668 MW.

The attractiveness of Canada as a hub for Bitcoin mining is well established, with the country already charging one of the lowest costs of electricity in the world at USD 0.10 kWh, which is already less than 25% of the cost in other states such as New York and Boston, and still far cheaper than that of other major cities across North America.

According to the announcement,

“[The new allocation] will allow us to accommodate these new customers without negatively impacting our power budget. We will be able to protect the low rates offered to our customers.”

Jonathan Hammel, who works as a Bitcoin technology consultant with the Montreal Economic Institute, saw this announcement as a positive sign for the industry in Canada, especially since there has been some upheaval in recent months:

“The decision of the Québec Energy Board is a major victory for Bitcoin miners in Québec but also for Bitcoin in general. It’s a clear demonstration that Bitcoin-related businesses are operating within the scope of the law of the land.”

Much of the past criticism of Hydro-Quebec has come from the non-mining majority, who are concerned about crypto mining activities increasing power costs and small mining operations.

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Election day in Québec: Where Does Crypto Mining Go from Here?

The Canadian French-speaking province of Québec goes to the polls today, but what could this mean for the future of the region’s vibrant cryptocurrency mining economy?

The outcome of the 1 October parliamentary elections could have a significant impact on the future of Bitcoin mining, as the incumbent Liberal government clings on to power by a thread.

The parties in the race are for the 2018 general election include The Liberal Party of Quebec (PLQ), Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ), Solidarity Quebec (QS), Quebec Party (PQ) and Green Party of Quebec (PVQ). At this stage, only one party – the Coalition for Quebec’s Future (CAQ) – has a feasible chance of taking power, with Parti Québécois running third; two political bodies at some point expressing a wish to advance blockchain in the province.

The incumbent Liberals have recently applied the brakes when it comes to Bitcoin mining in the state, ordering Hydro Québec, the state-owned electricity supplier, to restrict the sale of power and raise the tariffs of blockchain companies charges. Although the Liberal government has blamed the lack of grid capacity on recent actions, critics are far more cynical, arguing that the government lacks vision and is driving away valuable business which should be boosting Québec’s economy.

“These measures immediately damaged numerous mining operations in Quebec and deterred investors who went elsewhere… The crypto community is really not happy about that,” maintains former Les Affairs columnist François Remy. Francis Pouliot, Montreal cryptocurrency pundit went further, saying in June that “the Québec Bitcoin Eldorado is dead”. Remy sees the two close runners as parties who could lift the industry in the province:

“The (Liberal) government is about to lose the elections, and the other political parties, like Parti Québécois and CAQ seem more opened to blockchain… They want to attract these companies, to support them and use cheap electricity and cold climate as a competitive advantage for the Québec economy.”

Quebec became a mecca for North American companies in late 2017 offering both cheap hydroelectricity and cold weather – crypto mining’s two absolute essentials for a healthy profit. As more companies moved to the region, Hydro-Québec began to report that the demand for power was beginning to impact on the grid due to the surge in crypto mining and the increase in data center construction in the province.

As reported in June by Bitcoin News, this led to a moratorium on new mining in the province which resulted in a 500MW electricity pool being allocated to blockchain customers, which would then be auctioned off, based on tariffs companies would be happy to pay. This remains the status quo until further discussions set for November.

How keen both the CAQ and the Parti Québécois will be to become parties who show a real willingness to advance new technology in the region and tackle such problems, will remain to be seen until after today’s closely-run election.

 

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New Power Rate Approved for Upstate New York Crypto Miners

Regulators in New York state have given approval to a new electricity rate scheme for cryptocurrency miners.

In response to the permission given earlier by New York state to 36 municipal power authorities to charge higher rates to crypto miners, the Massena municipal utility has come up with its own plan.

A new rate structure will allow crypto miners operating there to negotiate their own contracts to pay a “fair price”. The utility has said that miners will be able to do this on a case-by-case scenario, which is designed to protect other consumers from inflated rates. New York State Department of Public Service Chair John Rhodes said in a statement:

“We must ensure that business customers pay a fair price for the electricity that they consume. However, given the abundance of low-cost electricity in Upstate New York, there is an opportunity to serve the needs of existing customers and to encourage economic development in the region.”

New York is a haven for cheap power due to its hydroelectricity facilities, with residential consumers paying substantially less than the national average of USD 0.13 per kilowatt hour. This has consequently led to an increase in cryptocurrency mining with other companies attracted to the low rates.

One of these is crypto company Coinmint, who recently announced its plan take over a former Alcoa aluminum smelting facility in the state, a move that would make it one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency mining centers, as Bitcoin News reported.

The smelting plant, located in Upstate New York, signed a deal with crypto-mining company Coinmint to install one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency mining centres there. The 10-year lease, with options to renew, will give Coinmint the opportunity to invest USD 700 million into its new facility, expected to bring over 150 new jobs to the nearby town of Massena.

In March, authorities in Plattsburg New York expressed concerns about new mining operations in the city and passed a moratorium on the activity. This was after it was revealed that the city was reportedly using 10% of Plattsburg’s power allocation in January and February.

Across the border, in order to regulate mining activities in Quebec, Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec has suggested a plan by which blockchain companies would be required to bid for electricity and quantify expected job creation and investment. If implemented, miners would be paying 20% above the standard state rate.

 

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