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News about the legal Washington State industry & public concerns.

Pot Use Ratchets Up Power Use

A regional power planning group is nervous about burgeoning marijuana production in Washington and possibly Oregon. But it's not a moral or legal issue. It's about the amount of electricity that will be sucked up by pot growers. 

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is due to release a new 5-year power plan next year. But analysts have realized their predictions for power consumption are complicated by new electricity demands from indoor pot growers.

As pot growers scramble to meet new legal demand for the weed in Washington, researchers think they'll use enough power to satisfy a small city over the next 20 years. And demand for pot may surge to more than 300 tons a year by 2035.

So energy council officials are urging indoor pot growers to switch over to energy-efficient grow lights - more expensive to buy, but much cheaper to operate. Analysts say that LED lights, for example, could cut 80 percent of the cost of indoor cultivation. And more efficient heating and air conditioning systems could cut costs by another 10 percent.

Power demand from pot growers will be one of the key factors in the council's load forecast, along with computer data centers and electric plug-in vehicles.

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