Province directs Manitoba Hydro to pause new cryptocurrency connections

This article was published in November 2022 and may be outdated.

On November 28, the Government of Manitoba announced they have directed Manitoba Hydro to pause new cryptocurrency interconnection requests. As per the Province, unchecked cryptocurrency mining could require us to spend billions in new generation and transmission facilities — so urgent action is required to respond to the exponential number of requests we’re getting.

As a result of the directive, effective immediately, we are:

  • Pausing all new requests for service to cryptocurrency operations.
  • Providing security deposit refunds to anybody whose request for electric service is subject to the suspension.
  • Beginning a full review of the potential impacts of the cryptocurrency industry on the hydroelectric system and providing the Manitoba government with options and recommendations to address the anticipated demand. This includes:
    • Consulting with stakeholders, including those planning to engage in cryptocurrency operations;
    • Collaborating with Manitoba Finance on the new policy and how it relates to economic development; and
    • Engaging with the Public Utilities Board to explore any potential regulations that may be introduced to guide cryptocurrency operations.

“This pause will provide us the time to assess the impact of the crypto industry on our system and how it fits within the evolving energy landscape through our Integrated Resource Plan,” said Jay Grewal (President & CEO).

Cryptocurrency mining uses arrays of powerful computers to do complex math calculations, which requires a significant amount of power — these computers, along with their cooling equipment, need to be plugged in and running at all times. There are 37 cryptocurrency customers in Manitoba, but over 240 potential new operations have been in touch with us since July 2021. Many other utilities are facing similar challenges, and we brought forward the potential issues the cryptocurrency industry poses earlier this year.

“We must ensure the long-term impacts are clearly understood and don’t inadvertently affect our other customers, whether they’re residential, commercial, or industrial,” said Jay. “We always act in the best interests of all Manitobans. If we connected every cryptocurrency operator who’s shown interest in the last 16 months, we’d increase our total electrical load by 4,600 megawatts.”

For comparison, Manitoba Hydro’s total system capacity is approximately 6100 megawatts.

BC Hydro is considering a similar approach, with a potential moratorium on providing power to the crypto industry for 18 months while the BC government considers its options. In November 2022, Hydro-Quebec asked the provincial regulator to suspend the current allocation for the cryptocurrency industry, saying it would increase pressure on current power balances.