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New cryptocurrency mining connections paused in B.C.

The B.C. government announced recently that BC Hydro will suspend electricity-connection requests from cryptocurrency mining operations for 18 months.

The temporary suspension will preserve B.C.’s electricity supply, while giving government and BC Hydro sufficient time to engage with industry and First Nations, and develop a permanent framework for any future cryptocurrency mining operations, a Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation media release stated.

“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 Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “We are suspending electricity connection requests from cryptocurrency mining operators to preserve our electricity supply for people who are switching to electric vehicles and heat pumps, and for businesses and industries that are undertaking electrification projects that reduce carbon emissions and generate jobs and economic opportunities.”

B.C.’s clean, affordable electricity has attracted unprecedented interest from cryptocurrency miners, the ministry reported.

Currently, 21 projects are requesting a total of 1,403 megawatts that will be temporarily suspended. That is equivalent to the energy needed to power approximately 570,000 homes, or 2.1 million electric vehicles, per year in B.C.

If these connections were to continue unchecked, much of BC Hydro’s available energy to use strategically in support of British Columbia’s CleanBC goals could be eroded by cryptocurrency mining projects, with little remaining to electrify projects that have greater jobs, economic development and greenhouse gas reduction benefits, the ministry added.

To preserve B.C.’s electricity, the province has directed the B.C. Utilities Commission to accept an application from BC Hydro for temporary relief from its obligations to provide service to new cryptocurrency mining projects for 18 months while government develops a permanent framework.

New cryptocurrency mining projects may not initiate the process of connection with BC Hydro, and projects at early stages of the connection process will also be halted.

Cryptocurrency mining projects that are operational, and a small number of projects that are well advanced in BC Hydro’s connection process, will not be affected. The connection of other types of projects that do not mine cryptocurrency will not be affected.

BC Hydro provides service to seven cryptocurrency mining operations, including the Iris Energy operation at Columbia Lake Technology Centre in Canal Flats, with six more in advanced stages of connection to the system, totalling 273 megawatts.

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