In Vancouver, a cryptocurrency company has been denied the power it needs for its operations, as the provincial government upholds its right to limit power connections for new crypto miners. Conifex Timber Inc., a forestry company that has expanded into cryptocurrency mining, took their case to the B.C. Supreme Court in an attempt to invalidate the policy. However, Justice Michael Tammen ruled that the government’s decision in December 2022 to pause new connections for 18 months was reasonable and not discriminatory.
According to BC Hydro CEO Christopher O’Riley, the proposed data centers from Conifex would have consumed a whopping 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity per year. This amount of energy is enough to power and heat over 570,000 apartments, as stated on the power provider’s website. When the policy was introduced, Energy Minister Josie Osborne explained that cryptocurrency mining uses a massive amount of electricity for high-powered computers, but contributes very little to the local economy in terms of job creation.
In response to the court ruling, Conifex released a statement expressing their disappointment and considering an appeal. The company believes that the provincial government is missing out on opportunities to improve energy affordability, accelerate technological innovation, and promote more inclusive economic growth. Before the government’s decision to pause power connections for cryptocurrency miners, BC Hydro had released a report highlighting the challenges they pose to clean energy and electrification goals, especially as the adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps increases.
The report also noted that bitcoin mining alone requires enough energy to power a small country, and the halting of crypto mining in other countries has resulted in a surge in demand for electricity in British Columbia. The court ruling revealed that the number of connection requests from cryptocurrency miners in B.C. exceeded BC Hydro’s projections in recent years. The government’s pause was a response to the concern that devoting such a large portion of the available power supply to one industry could result in increased costs for other residential and industrial customers in the province.
This news was first published by The Canadian Press on February 5, 2024. Darryl Greer, reporting for The Canadian Press.