N.B. Power hits pause on large new electricity customers during crypto review

FREDERICTON - N.B. Power says a freeze on servicing new, large-scale industrial customers in the province remains in place over concerns that the cryptocurrency sector's heavy electricity use could be more than the utility can handle.

The Higgs government quietly endorsed the moratorium in a cabinet order in March 2022 and ordered a review of how the sector might affect the reliable electricity supply.

The cabinet order, filed with the Energy and Utilities Board, said N.B. Power had "policy, technical and operational concerns about [its] capacity to service the anticipated additional load demand" from crypto mines.

It said the utility had received "several new large-scale, short-notice service requests" to supply electricity to crypto mining companies that could put "significant pressure" on the existing electricity supply.

The order, signed by Premier Blaine Higgs, said non-crypto companies shouldn't be subject to the pause for any longer than required for the review. Ws.

The freeze was ordered months after Taal Distributed Information Technologies Inc. announced plans to establish a 50-megawatt bitcoin mining and transaction processing operation in Grand Falls.

A town official said this week that the deal never went ahead.

24 hours a day
The Taal facility would have joined a 70-megawatt bitcoin mine in Grand Falls operated by Hive Blockchain Technologies.

Hive's Bitcoin mine comprises four large warehouses containing thousands of computers running 24 hours a day to earn cryptocurrency units.

The combined annual electricity consumption of the two mines would exceed what could be produced by the small modular nuclear reactor being designed by ARC Clean Energy Canada of Saint John.

Put another way, the two mines would gobble up more than three months' electricity from N.B. Power's coal-fired Belledune generating station.


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