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A version of this article appears in the Winter 2018
issue of Home Energy Magazine.
December 10, 2018
Beginning with Colorado in 2012, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use, and eight of these have also legalized home cultivation of cannabis. Legislation varies across each state but generally allows home growers to grow between four and six plants either indoors, outdoors, or in a greenhouse. The residential grow market poses a unique challenge to utilities because there is no formal tracking process for home growers, and they may consume more energy than their local infrastructure is equipped to handle. For example, one Oregon utility noted seven outages in the first three months of legalized home growing in 2015, that occurred because growers overloaded the local power grid equipment. Most of this energy consumption stems from using traditional energy-intensive fluorescent and high-intensity discharge grow lighting—including high-pressure sodium lamps and metal halides —between 12 and 24 hours a day throughout the growth cycle. The heating by-product from these energy-intensive lights also increases cooling and venting requirements for some growers.
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