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Bitcoin miner fails to overturn provincial pause on crypto power hookups

Bitcoin miners are hoping to keep BC’s virtual gold rush going, once a pause on new power hookups expires in June.

However, the Supreme Court isn’t on their side, judging by a court decision this week.

Conifex Timber, a northern forestry company-turned-cryptocurrency miner, was unsuccessful in getting a 2022 decision overturned, which put power hookups for crypto miners on pause for 18 months.

Justice Michael Tammen ruled the pause was not discriminatory. He said it was a wise move, given the “large increase” in crypto miners asking for power hookups, which would “collectively use a massive amount of electrical power.”

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Tammen says the decision, an order in council passed by the Lieutenant-Governor, was for good reasons.

“Devoting such a large proportion of the available electrical power supply to one industry would leave less energy for other uses which might result in increased costs to all other residential and industry customers in BC,” he wrote.

Tammen pointed out BC Hydro has received demands for crypto hookups that are far beyond the capability of BC’s electricity infrastructure to meet. The total demand from requests last year would have been 16 million megawatt-hours per year.

“That equates to the amount of electrical energy needed to service 1.5 million residential customer premises. BC Hydro currently services 2 million residential customer premises,” Tammen said.

The Conifex proposal would use 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity annually. BC Hydro says it’s currently servicing seven crypto mining operations in BC, representing power consumption of 166 megawatts. In comparison, the entire John Hart Dam system in Campbell River generates about 130 megawatts.

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