BC Hydro, a state-owned electric utility provider in the Canadian province of British Columbia, has paused new electricity connection requests from cryptocurrency miners for 18 months “to support the province’s climate action and economic goals.”
“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,” Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Josie Osborne said in a media release Wednesday.
The suspension would target cryptocurrency miners who have yet to connect to the grid and those that were in the early stages of getting hooked up.
Existing Bitcoin mining operators and those who are “well advanced in the BC Hydro’s connection process” would not be affected.
Environmentalists have criticized Bitcoin for its energy expenditures, with many comparing the network’s consumption to that of entire countries.
The Bitcoin network relies on the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm, which requires plenty of energy as Bitcoin miners compete to crack cryptographic puzzles and keep the blockchain secure while earning rewards for their efforts.
Enough energy to power 570,000 homes
According to the Canada Energy Regulator, about 87% of British Columbia’s electricity is generated by hydropower, which has attracted “unprecedented interest” from crypto miners, according to the province’s government.
The ministry said BC Hydro is currently serving seven crypto-mining operations and has six in the advanced stages of connection, totaling 273 megawatts of power.
Additionally, the province is facing requests from 21 projects with a projected power usage of 1,403 megawatts—enough energy to power 570,000 homes or 2.1 million electric vehicles for a year. All of these requests will now be suspended.
The decision follows a similar move by the province of Manitoba last month in response to concerns that cryptocurrency operations have a high environmental toll by pulling in massive amounts of electricity with little economic payoff.
Hydro-Quebec looks to follow the same avenue, too, asking the provincial regulator at the beginning of November to suspend the energy allocation process to cryptocurrency miners.