CEO of Canadian Utility That Proposed Banning New Power to Crypto Miners Exits

Hydro-Québec CEO Sophie Brochu will officially step down in April after three years leading the company.

AccessTimeIconJan 24, 2023 at 5:55 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 24, 2023 at 7:10 p.m. UTC
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Sophie Brochu, the CEO of Hydro-Quebec – the utility company of the province of Quebec that late last year proposed suspending new power supply to the blockchain industry – is departing the firm on April 11, according to a Jan. 10 statement.

“Under her leadership, a new strategic plan was developed in collaboration with a great many internal contributors and representatives of Québec society, demonstrating her ability to bring people together," said Board Chair Jacynthe Côté in the statement.

Hydro-Québec didn't name a successor to Brochu – who joined the company as CEO in April 2020 – but said the board will recommend its candidate, with the ultimate appointment to come from the Québec Cabinet.

Last year, the utility firm proposed to Canada's energy regulator to suspend the allocation of new 270 megawatts (MW) power supply, already planned for the blockchain industry. The proposal didn't explicitly mention which part of that industry was being targeted, but the Canadian province has been an ideal place for crypto miners to set up due to its abundant sources of clean, renewable energy.

Miners who have their operations in the province such as Argo Blockchain (ARBK) and Bitfarms (BITF) clarified, saying that after speaking to Hydro-Québec they confirmed their access to power would continue to remain in place.

Energy is one of the largest costs for crypto miners and the companies thus tend to build their operations en masse in the regions offering cheaper sources of electricity such as Texas and Quebec. However, their enormous power consumption has sparked a continued global debate among policymakers, with some arguing it puts tremendous strain on local power grid, adversely impacting other consumers. Meanwhile, supporters of crypto miners say their operations help absorb excess energy from the grid and incentivize more renewable sources of power.

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Aoyon Ashraf is managing editor with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets