Rising demand for Montreal’s low-cost hydroelectric power among bitcoin miners could spur higher electricity rates. Hydro-Quebec revealed it may consider hiking the cost for bitcoin miners given a flood of pent-up demand in the region, which would thwart the plans of bitcoin miners who depend on low rates for the massive amounts of electricity it requires to power their operations.
The Canadian province has been inundated with requests from more than 100 mega bitcoin mining operations looking to set up shop there — a handful of which are already under way — to lock-in lower hydropower costs that have already lured the likes of Amazon.com for its data centers. But the local utility provider says not so fast.
A Hydro-Quebec spokesman told CTV News Montreal:
“We’ve had such an important volume (of requests) that there are questions being asked on the tariff offered and the quantity of clients we’ll be able to plug in.”
For now, Hydro-Quebec has more than enough power supply, but that surplus could be diminished if more bitcoin miners move to town. The power utility is strategically playing its hand, as evidenced by a shift in its typical strategy to lure industry by offering lower rates. In the case of bitcoin miners, it’s looking to charge more for overtaxing capacity.
For instance, multiple proposed bitcoin mining projects boast capacity as high as 100 mw, which is much more power even than it takes to keep the lights on at the home of the Montreal Canadiens.
But bitcoin miners are crying foul, including local operation Bitfarms. The startup’s co-founder bemoaned a possible rate hike, saying in a statement:
“We are building the computing power and electrical infrastructure that will power the blockchain with Quebec hydroelectric power,” said Pierre-Luc Quimper, pointing to the dozens of jobs that the company has ushered into the region.
Plus, according to Bitfarms’ Twitter page, they plan to hire hundreds more across analyst, technician, engineer and developer positions.
Montreal is conducive to bitcoin mining not only for its cheap hydropower but also its frigid temperatures. The cold climate helps to keep the computer systems performing the energy-intensive round-the-clock bitcoin mining cool.
Meanwhile, in the lower 48 bitcoin miners are being drawn westward to Washington, where they are similarly capitalizing on cheap hydroelectric power.
Bitcoin mining and blockchain have gripped the North American region even as China stands to lose its top spot. Despite being home to about 75% of the world’s bitcoin mining, China’s harsh stance toward bitcoin mining threatens to knock it down as the US and Canadian profile rises.
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