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4 Marijuana Plants Require Huge Amounts of Electricity

April 29, 2015 By Linda Hardesty

janeA story in the East Oregonian says growing four marijuana plants indoors with lighting, climate control, ventilation and equipment to boost carbon dioxide to improve plant growth “typically uses as much electricity as running 29 new refrigerators, according to one report by a California scientist.” Large grow operations can rival the energy intensity of data centers, says the news outlet.

The Oregon Energy Department is preparing for the legalization of recreational pot in the state, which goes into effect July 1, at which time adults aged 21 and older can possess up to four marijuana plants.

Besides more energy demand, the Oregon DOE is looking at the problem of extending its energy efficiency programs to the cannabis industry, but federal funds cannot be used for any activities that involve pot.

Utilities in the other two states that have legalized recreational marijuana – Colorado and Washington – have also found that trying to navigate state law within the boundaries of federal law has proven difficult. Utilities and energy officials are hesitant to offer energy-efficiency incentives for fear of endangering federal grants.

If marijuana growers put great demand on the electric grid and they aren’t allowed to participate in energy efficiency programs, it could result in increased prices for all ratepayers. One solution would be to charge some kind of energy premium to major growers. In Colorado, Boulder County enacted a cannabis carbon tax, for instance.

Takeaway: Energy efficient LEDs seem to be the industry’s best option for lowering its power bill. The Lighting Science Group, a maker of LED bulbs for the marijuana industry, projected that Washington would save over 900 GWh of electricity annually if it changed from the standard high-intensity lights to LEDs.

Photo: Marijuana plants via Shutterstock

3 comments on “4 Marijuana Plants Require Huge Amounts of Electricity

  1. There is a missed aspect to this situation.
    The conservative nature of Americans has given enough to allow legal cannabis, but is intimidated by the prospect of it all. Therefore, the laws are drawn up as conservatively as necessary to get passed. This has precipitated into the law with tight restrictions on amounts allowed and plant counts.
    This creates a few new problems. Firstly, the low possession levels mean one has to garden 24/7/365. This precludes a seasonal sunshine garden. Secondly, 4 plants is silly. One keeps mother plants and takes cuttings because it is illegal to purchase seeds. With 2 mothers, one can bloom only 2 cuttings at a time. To yield enough useable material, those plants have to be monsters. Artificial light dims exponentially to the distance, thus many giant lights must be used to cover the 6′ tall plants.

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