One of the most painful – and expensive – parts of cultivating marijuana commercially can be the price of electricity to power grow lamps, especially for those with indoor warehouse operations. According to a four-year-old research paper, the industry at that point was already using $6 billion a year in power, and new numbers suggest that figure could jump to $11 billion, the High Country News reported.
That’s causing ongoing concern for power companies, so much so that an entire panel was dedicated to the topic at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 11. That’s where the $11 billion figure came from, according to High Country News.
A report on the session included statistics from Xcel Energy in Colorado, which estimated that the marijuana industry in the state already uses almost 1% of retail electricity in its service area, enough to power 35,000 homes. In 2011, the same number was true nationwide, and even higher in California, where cannabis growers at the time were using 3% of the state’s electricity. And stolen power for illegal grows can top $100 million nationwide.
Last month, two Oregon utilities, Pacific Power and Portland General Electric blamed marijuana growers for taking the state’s grid over capacity and blowing-out equipment.
What this all adds up to for commercial growers will likely be a trend towards either outdoor cultivation, the use of greenhouses, or other energy-saving measures, simply for the sake of long-term business stability.