Maine cannabis companies now qualify for energy-efficiency grants

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A ratepayer-funded agency in Maine that promotes sustainable energy will allow licensed marijuana businesses to apply for energy-efficiency grants.

Efficiency Maine lifted a ban on cannabis businesses by a vote of 5-2, saying marijuana businesses are as likely as other industries to stay in business long enough to justify such grants, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Previously, the organization’s trustees worried about a possible federal crackdown on state-legal marijuana businesses.

Efficiency Maine’s decision comes only days before Maine launches its long-awaited recreational marijuana market.

“It takes time to make your money back on these grants,” Executive Director Michael Stoddard told the Press Herald. “Every project is different, but with most, it takes a number of years.”

The grants, primarily funded by ratepayers, are designed to cut the energy consumption of Maine’s largest energy users and thus reduce costly utility upgrades. The grants pay for as much as 50% of a project’s total cost, up to a $1 million maximum.

Marijuana cultivators, for example, might use the grants to invest in LED lights or more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

In fiscal year 2019, Efficiency Maine provided $1.9 million of grants to 19 applicants, according to the Press Herald.