Grow house energy use, a downside to an economic high in Colorado

Grow houses account for 1% of total energy revenue.

DENVER – It’s a growing downside to what is otherwise an economic high for Colorado.

Marijuana cultivation warehouses now account for one percent of Xcel’s total electric revenues in the state.

While the pot industry is booming, its chronic energy use is causing an entirely separate social issue: a carbon footprint many believe is way too big.

“We still don’t know what will be the best practices to even develop some type of regulatory fix,” said Ashley Kilroy, executive director of marijuana policy for the City of Denver.

“I think you’re going to start seeing penalties,” said Jamie Perino, owner of Euflora recreational and medicinal marijuana shops.

Boulder County has already started assessing penalties on grow operations in the form of a tax on kilowatt hours used.

That’s one of the reasons Euflora marijuana shops worked for two years to launch a new state-of-the-art greenhouse.

“Our lights are hardly ever on,” said Perino. “This greenhouse utilizes mother nature, fans and humidity control to grow plants.”

Perino explains the difference between a greenhouse and a warehouse.

“At a warehouse, you’re going to run lights 24/7. Twelve hours on one side and 12 on the other side,” she said. “Here in this greenhouse, with the light and the blackout shades, we can actually control the lighting. We’re expecting half the cost of electric bills.”

Perino expects her Xcel bill to go from $10,000 a month at a warehouse to under $5,000 at the greenhouse.

In Denver, between 2012 and 2014, energy use by grow houses accounted for 50 percent of the overall increase in energy consumption citywide.

“Our team knows the world is watching and everyone wants to do it right,” said Kilroy. “We are in the middle of figuring it all out, I guess you could say. We’ve got a group developing a list of best practices. What type of lighting is the most efficient lighting? It behooves of (marijuana growers) to figure this out as quickly as possible because it’s a cost-savings mechanism for them.”

Perino’s greenhouse is like a fortress – double-fencing, dozens of cameras, optic laser beams. It’s extra security recouped in energy savings.

“And even if the bottom line doesn’t show it right away, I personally believe that doing the right thing for the environment and for the people is important. We want to provide the most natural, healthy alternative to medicine and for recreational,” Perino said.

“With 300 days of sunshine a year, we need to harness this and use it and appreciate what we have.”

Originally posted on The Denver Channel. Click here to view original article and video.

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