Quebec’s energy regulators have decided to allow the Hydro-Quebec utility firm to impose higher electricity costs on customers mining cryptocurrency, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette. The Régie de l’énergie decision will permit Hydro-Quebec to charge those miners’ electricity consumption at 15 cents per kilowatt hour - twice the rate paid by the company’s other customers.
The move has been characterized as a temporary measure to deal with increased demand from crypto miners, while the government works to establish regulatory guidelines for the industry. Hearings to address issues involving cryptocurrency are currently scheduled to begin next month.
In its decision, regulators said:
“The Régie considers that the rates and conditions … will ensure the security of electricity supply in the particular context of massive, sudden, unexpected and simultaneous demands for the use of blockchain technology, including mining cryptocurrencies.”
The decision only applies to customers with existing service contracts, however, since the Régie decided that those agreements should be upheld until new regulations are in place.
While Quebec has an existing surplus of electricity, Hydro-Quebec and public officials in the province have expressed concern that the company might not be able to maintain supply during the peak demand winter period.