British Columbia Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Crypto Mining Projects

British Columbia’s provincial power utility, B.C Hydro, has received support from a provincial supreme court judge for its moratorium on crypto mining projects. The ruling, which was posted on Monday, deemed the moratorium as reasonable. The challenge against the ban was brought by Conifex Timber, a forestry company that had expanded into crypto mining. Conifex had planned a mining operation in partnership with Tsay Keh Dene Nation, an indigenous tribe.

In his ruling, Justice Michael Tammen stated that the moratorium, which was first implemented in December 2022, was not discriminatory and fell within the boundaries set by the province’s Utilities Commission Act. Justice Tammen explained that B.C. Hydro’s ban was based on a cost-of-service basis, taking into account the significant energy demands of cryptocurrency mining. The aim of the ban is to ensure affordable energy access for the wider population.

Justice Tammen emphasized that cryptocurrency mining centers have unique electricity consumption characteristics. He noted that the projected amount of megawatt hours required to meet the interconnection requests from cryptocurrency operations in 2023 far exceeded BC Hydro’s projections.

Conifex, however, expressed disappointment with the continued ban, stating that it believed the provincial government was missing out on several opportunities. The company argued that lifting the ban could improve energy affordability, accelerate technological innovation, strengthen the reliability and resiliency of the power distribution grid in British Columbia, and promote more inclusive economic growth.

It is worth noting that in November 2022, New York State also imposed a two-year moratorium on crypto mining. British Columbia is home to several zero-carbon footprint mining projects that operate off-grid, such as Ocean Falls Technology. This project utilizes orphaned power from a hydroelectric plant in an abandoned mining town.

The ruling by the provincial supreme court judge provides legal backing to B.C Hydro’s ban on crypto mining projects. It highlights the need to balance the energy demands of cryptocurrency mining with the goal of ensuring affordable energy access for the broader population. The decision also raises questions about the potential missed opportunities for economic growth and technological innovation that could arise from lifting the ban.