A 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.