States that have legalized marijuana use are facing a big drain on their energy resources. In Colorado, growers will be faced with “special fees” to compensate for higher-than-average electricity usage and “climate change” according to USA Today.
In both Colorado and Washington states, the vast majority of marijuana is grown inside, with extensive lighting used to mimic the sun. The power used to keep the lights on “only works out because the crop is so valuable: A single plant can be worth $6,000 once harvested, processed and sold at retail.”
“They’re using more energy than almost anybody else,” said Ron Flax, Boulder County’s sustainability coordinator. “There’s nothing else that comes close.”
Utility experts in the Pacific Northwest say that in 20 years, marijuana growers will need as much power as a small city. Officials are hoping to convince growers to adopt energy-efficient LED lights.
But it’s more than just the lights draining the power grid. Air filters and air conditioners are also using up power.
Marijuana can be grown either inside or out. Outside is cheaper, and can yield more usable product per plant, but risks contamination from unfiltered air, water and soil. Indoor grows are less efficient and cost more because they require lights, but give growers more control and the opportunity for continual harvests.
An average 2,400-square-foot home uses 903 kilowatt hours of power monthly, according to the federal government. A marijuana grow consumes about 360 kWh a month per 25 square feet, according to industry experts, more during the different growing phases. A grow that size accommodates 20-25 plants, and sucks as much power as 29 refrigerators, according to power company estimates.
Across the country, growers say, 100,000-square-foot warehouses filled with marijuana are normal.
All told, it takes about 5,000 kWh to grow 1 kilogram of pot, says NPCC.
Boulder County, Colorado, will be adding on a 2.16 cent charge per kWh on electricity consumed by marijuana growers. That works out to be $100 per kilogram of their final product.