Growing cannabis can require a lot of electricity, so much so that it’s become an obstacle in states where recreational use is legal, including Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Those places have ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And, according to a report from Colorado Public Radio, the thriving cannabis industry is getting in the way.
The good news is, growers such as Colorado Harvest Company says technology has changed so dramatically that they can replace fluorescent lights with LEDs that are twice as efficient. It’s a big deal, says Colorado Harvest Company CEO Tim Cullen, who pays $13,000 a month for electricity.
“For the first time in four years, I’m looking forward to that bill going down a little bit,” Cullen says. “I bet it drops several thousand dollars a month.”
According to the National Public Radio (NPR) report from Colorado, it’s a win for Colorado Harvest Company and for the city of Denver, which started tracking cannabis industry energy use years ago when it found marijuana grows accounted for nearly half of Denver’s 1% uptick in electricity use. Emily Backus at Denver’s Department of Environmental Health says that causes friction with the city’s carbon reduction plan. The goal is to be down 80% by 2050.
To reduce energy use, the city started a task force that looks at cannabis and power. It recommended LEDs, which last longer and are more efficient. While each unit can cost hundreds of dollars, in places like Washington State, utilities offer generous rebates to any business that changes to LEDs, including cannabis growers. This could soon be happening in Colorado.
Read or listen to the full Colorado Public Radio report here.