By Guy Page
Indoor marijuana cultivation is among the most energy-intensive operations. To assist legal cultivators reduce consumption, the state’s energy utility has set aside $1 million in rebates for marijuana growers.
Efficiency Vermont, the state’s energy-saving utility that assesses monthly fees on utility bills, has been publicizing the need for marijuana growers to conserve electricity since at least 2019, when it urged growers to adopt industry-standard low-energy lighting to grow indoor plants.
“Since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, indoor cannabis growing has accounted for about four percent of electricity demand in Denver alone. Following legalization in Portland, Oregon, seven power outages in six months were attributed to indoor pot cultivation. Whether home-based or on a large commercial scale, indoor growing is energy intensive,” Efficiency Vermont wrote in April, 2019.
Not only do commercial growers employ energy-intensive lighting, many actually run carbon-dioxide-emitting machines to enrich the atmosphere for the CO2-eating plants. When opponents of marijuana legalization pointed out the large carbon footprint of marijuana cultivation, otherwise climate-conscious legislators seemed unconcerned. “We can absorb that,” said one state senator also calling for Vermont to go to war against carbon emissions.
Seven Days, a statewide weekly newspaper, reported last week that Efficiency Vermont now is doing more than advising – it’s bankrolling $1 million of cannabis cultivation rebates for relatively low-energy lighting using money mostly sourced from ratepayers (avg. household efficiency fee of about $6.65/month).
For the full scoop, read Seven Days reporter Kevin Kevin McCallum’s excellent news story here.