Remote Labrador may get more server farms under N.L. government plan

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Remote Labrador could host more server farms for Bitcoin and other high-energy users under a plan from the provincial government.

The province unveiled a plan Monday that it hopes will soften the blow of electricity price hikes expected when the over-budget Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject comes fully on-line next year.

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The plan says growing Labrador's data centre sector could turn surplus power into profit.

Such centres process and store mass amounts of data from clients like "blockchain" data processing for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and the government says there are outstanding requests for service.

Premier Dwight Ball has faced mounting pressure to shield ratepayers as Muskrat Falls' price tag doubled to $12.7 billion.

He calls paying for the nearly complete dam "one of the biggest challenges facing" Newfoundland and Labrador, with an estimated $725.9 million required to meet costs in its first year.

The government's plan commits to keeping rates at 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and proposes measures like saving on administrative costs and switching to electricity in public buildings.

It also addresses a gap of $200 million to be softened through to-be-determined "collaboration" with the federal government.

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