Addressing the Energy-Intensive Marijuana Industry in Oregon

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With recreational marijuana now legal in the state of Oregon, there’s growing interest in how to address the energy-intensive marijuana industry.

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Indoor cannabis operation by Canna Obscura/Shutterstock

Until the state works out the details of a law — effective July 1 — legalizing recreational marijuana, it is now only legal to grow medical marijuana in Oregon.  But there’s concern that once the industry gears up later this year, the growers will draw large amounts of energy. In fact, an article in a Portland paper, the Portland Business Journal, asked, “Is it Time for LEED Weed?”

“There is a great deal of interest and questions regarding the energy usage associated with grow operations,” said Hannah Hacker, a spokeswoman for the Energy Trust. “The Energy Trust is alert to this interest. Once the new regulations around commercial marijuana growing are determined, we will work with eligible customers upon request to determine energy-saving opportunities.”

In the meantime, the Energy Trust offers the same energy efficiency incentives it offers other industries, she said. They can be found here.

“Currently, customers of legal medical marijuana facilities are eligible for our standard program services and incentives through the Production Efficiency program,” said Hacker. “We serve these customers similar to all eligible agricultural customers looking to save energy and reduce costs in their facilities.”

Energy use by marijuana growers is a growing concern in states that have legalized marijuana. For example, in Colorado — the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use — the industry has been associated with high electricity usage in Denver.

A 2011 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report estimated that cannabis production in the US (legal and illegal) consumed one percent of the electricity used in the US, representing $6 billion a year.

“The unchecked growth of electricity demand in this sector confounds energy forecasts and obscures savings from energy efficiency programs and policies,” the study found.

About 13,000 kWh/year of electricity is required to produce one pound of pot. On a square-foot basis, it takes 356 percent more energy to run a marijuana growing operation than it takes to operate a hospital, the study found.

In Oregon, new legislation related to the legalization of marijuana, HB 3400, created a Task Force on Cannabis Environmental Best Practices. The Energy Trust of Oregon is one of several organization appointed by the governor to the task force, said Hacker.

“We will bring to the task force our expertise and experience related to serving agricultural customers in general as well as our recent, though limited, experience serving legal medical marijuana businesses,” she said.

For those interested in following efforts to reduce energy consumption in the marijuana growing industry, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on Oregon, which is well known for its progressive energy policies and environmental leadership.

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Comments

  1. Duncan20903 says:

    Gosh, if there were only a way to grow it outside under the sun…

    Do any of the ignorant outsiders ever stop to think that maybe the laws have something to do with the way cannabis is grown? Do you really thing that people trek 5 miles into the wilderness to grow cannabis because it can’t be grown anywhere else? Let’s account for the fact that the government will put you in jail and steal your property if you get caught.
    I’m sure there are people that are just plain thieves who steal electricity but the fact that people get busted because of high electric bills has at least something to do with it.
    1300 kWh per year to grow a pound? That’s beyond absurd. Under an HID 1 gram per watt every 120 days is the benchmark for competence. E.g. a 1,000 watt light would produce 1000 grams in 120 days. That’s 12 kWh per day x 120 = 1,440 kwh to produce a kilo. There are people who are known to have exceeded 2 grams per watt. All stars for certain, but not at all uncommon.
    How in the world can you write an article about indoor growing energy consumption and not even mention LED grow lights? Within 5 years the entire industry will be converted to LEDs.

    • bongstar420 says:

      I will grow outdoors when property good ag ground is the same rent as a ware house and you pay the same price and expect lower quality on average.

  2. Clearly we need to build liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs). LFTRs are safe and do not have any of the problems that are inherent in uranium reactors. LFTRs can also be used to create fuels. We would not care how much it cost to grow medical marijuana if LFTRs were online now. LFTRs can be very small and would work great in Microgrid environments. We stopped research on these reactors in the 50’s because they don’t produce any byproducts that can used in nuclear bombs.

    One ref:
    http://liquidfluoridethoriumreactor.glerner.com/2012-what-is-a-lftr/

    • bongstar420 says:

      But then they couldn’t use energy scarcity to motivate people towards their political causes

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  1. […] Addressing the Energy-Intensive Marijuana Industry in Oregon “We will bring to the task force our expertise and experience related to serving agricultural customers in general as well as our recent, though limited, experience serving legal medical marijuana businesses,” she said. For those interested in … Read more on Energy Efficiency Markets […]

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