Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has given the cold shoulder to bitcoin miners seeking to take advantage of Quebec’s cheap energy costs. Hydro-Quebec, the Montreal, Canada-based utility, warned last week that cheap power would not be available to every company expanding to the province, hinting the company could set a higher tariff on cryptocurrency miners.
Couillard questioned the industry’s contribution to the local economy, Bloomberg Technology reports. Speaking at a conference in Montreal, he said companies must provide an added value for society, and simply having servers doing mining to create bitcoins does not accomplish this.
The shrug does not extend to blockchain technology, however, as Couillard said he is more supportive of companies that will create a “real eco-system or a real technological transformation centered on blockchain.” He said he is open to such companies even if they use cryptocurrency to finance their investment.
Hydro-Quebec had indicated 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.
Quebec had previously been courting cryptocurrency companies with its low cost, renewable energy, which resulted in an avalanche of requests to supply electricity to cryptocurrency miners looking to set up shop there, creating a demand that exceeds what the utility can deliver.
Bitcoin miners cried 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 had planned to hire hundreds more across analyst, technician, engineer and developer positions.
Eric Martel, CEO of the utility, said last week he has received hundreds of applications in the past few weeks. The ventures will require more than 9,000 megawatts of energy, which is equal to a quarter of the utility’s total generating capacity of 37,000 megawatts.
Last month, the company reported it was negotiating with more than 30 cryptocurrency companies. Corresponding with people from China, Russia, and many other places, Martel said his phone has been ringing off the hook.
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