Utilities have mandates to serve their customers and their efficiency programs are open to all customers that are eligible. But they are running into a mire of laws and opinions in states where marijuana is legal. On one hand, energy efficiency is needed in this industry. Grow operations are one of the largest centers of load increase in states where it is legal, and it’s estimated that growing just four pot plants consumes roughly the same amount of power as 29 refrigerators. On the other hand, even if it’s legal in one state, it’s still illegal federally, and utilities have been taking criticism for even thinking of giving grow operations rebates for becoming more efficient.
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’: How utilities are powering the marijuana industryUtility Dive, October 23, 2014
Marijuana—legal or otherwise—requires a lot of power to produce. And in the Pacific Northwest, utilities are now facing the complicated task of efficiently meeting that demand while navigating a set of opposing laws.
Just how much power the marijuana industry uses is tough to judge, and estimating future demand is even trickier. The recreational market is just getting started in Washington, where legal sales began this summer. Since July 8, the state is reporting just shy of $24 million in sales—and the pace seems to be accelerating. Sales in July averaged about $146,450 per day and so far in October have reached almost $400,000 each day.
How does that translate into power demand forecasts?