Quebec to Miners: “Provide Jobs if You Want More Electricity”

Quebec's energy troubles caused by cryptocurrency mining might go away soon, as Hydro-Quebec drafts a new proposal that allocates 500 megawatts to new mining companies under certain conditions.

Quebec has become such an attractive place for cryptocurrency mining operations that the demand for electricity coming out of this segment of the industry has been a bit too much for Hydro-Quebec—the area’s principal provider of electricity—to handle.

To address this issue, the company decided to propose a job creation incentive that would measure the number of hires made against the number of megawatts consumed by a mining company.

“The blockchain industry is a promising avenue for Hydro-Quebec. Guidelines are nevertheless required to ensure that the development of this industry maximizes spinoffs for Quebec without resulting in rate increases for our customers. We are actively participating in the Régie de l’énergie’s process so that these guidelines can be produced as quickly as possible,” said the company’s president, Éric Filion.

As a result of these changes, Hydro-Quebec set up a separate “energy block” with which it would reserve 500 megawatts for any new mining companies desiring to set up operations in the region. This new allocation will cost one cent more per kilowatt hour than already-established companies pay.

The proposal comes after Quebec was forced to put up a high barrier to newcomers by increasing electric utility prices to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour. The price hike would not apply to miners that have already come.

This new package also comes with another price attached: Cryptocurrency mining operators will have to decrease their energy usage by up to 300 hours per year to help offset the load that they bear on the region’s grid.

Hydro-Quebec will select candidates for this new program, probably using job creation as a principal criterion. This may turn away some of the companies that wanted to open up in Canada, as mining operations typically do not require a large number of hires outside of a skeleton crew that maintains and occasionally puts in orders to replace the ASICs that run in their facilities.