- The growth of legal, indoor marijuana operations continues to vex utilities in the Pacific Northwest, with the city of Seattle being the latest to worry about impacts from the industry's intense lighting needs.
- The city has more than 100 applications pending for grow house operations in Seattle City & Light's territory, and KOMO News reports that if all were approved, it could lead to a 3% increase in demand on the utility's system.
- Thus far, there have been no outages due to the grow operations in SCL's territory, but in neighboring Oregon there have been disruptions with some customers fined for the damage.
Some Seattle communities are worried about the potential impacts of marijuana grow operations that require large amounts of power.
"In the theoretical sense, it could cause outages. The main issue is just stressing the wires that supply the area so we would have to add capacity," Seattle City Light spokesman Roberto Bonaccorso told the KOMO News. But he added that most portions of the system can handle the demand, as many grow operations are located in industrial areas where the infrastructure is robust. Residential areas are at a low risk, he said.
"You would only see these types of power outages more in industrial districts where they're forced to work next to a welding business or something like that," he explained.
But despite that, the utility is reaching out to growers and urging them to turn to more efficient lighting.
Using older lighting can put a large strain on utility systems because plants require so much energy to grow. Some estimates say using older, less-efficient standard lights to grow four plants is akin to running 29 refrigerators.
While there have been no outages in Seattle related to marijuana operations, Portland, Ore.-based Pacific Power reports that it dealt with seven outages related to grow operations this summer. And in some instances, those responsible for the blackouts faced fines of around $5,000.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council believes regional demand from producers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, could reach almost 250 MW by 2035. In Denver, officials say 45% of the city's power growth is coming from the marijuana industry.