Marijuana growers in Boulder, Colorado, are facing an additional charge of 2.16 cents per kWh on all electricity consumed, reports USA Today. Colorado is among four U.S. states to have legalized both medicinal and recreational marijuana use and sees most of its crops grown indoors – an extremely energy intensive process.
The state amendment that allows the cultivation and use of marijuana in Colorado requires growers to maintain crops in enclosed and secured areas, which is accomplished most easily by utilizing indoor facilities. But with many growers operating warehouse sized facilities requiring high powered lights to simulate the sun, often along with industrial grade temperature control and ventilation systems, indoor marijuana crops mean massive energy and the noteworthy carbon footprint that comes with such. According to USA Today, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council estimates it requires about 5,000 kWh to grow 1 kilogram of marijuana, and projects demand in the coming years to explode as growers in Oregon, Washington and other nearby states boost legal production.
Boulder’s focus in levying the intended tax will be to first pay for government workers to advise marijuana growers on how to use less energy. Over time, the tax may also encourage growers to independently source more energy efficient options, such as LED lights and supplementing grid fed energy with distributed solar power.
As things stand, growers have little motivation to adjust current models because the high costs of electricity are easily balanced out in the high return on investment marijuana crops offer. With a single harvested plant having a potential retail value of $6,000, high utility bills are generally just accepted. However, costs increases like the one tax Boulder plans to implement by next year could be the catalyst for the developing marijuana industry to invest in processes that would put less strain on power grids and minimize environmental impact.
Watch the USA Today video below for more: