• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Anne Miller
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke
  • Greg Martin

The power grid and marijuana

 
pollinator
Posts: 2184
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
248
kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Something I had never thought of before is the impact marijuana legalization has on the power grid.

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/pot-power-how-utilities-and-regulators-are-dealing-with-the-budding-mariju/409172/

This article popped up while researching something for work and it blew my mind. grow houses blowing transformers. 45% of Denver, CO's new energy use is from MJ growers. Maybe this blows my mind so much because I am already in an energy unstable area. Our power goes out fairly frequently. I cannot imagine what would happen to our power grid if MJ growing was legal here. I do not think it could handle the increased use.

I also found it interesting how limited companies are in dealing with this issue thanks to federal laws still declaring pot illegal.

Did you know the federal sentencing guidelines are based on MJ weight. Each illegal drug has a given weight in MJ and final weight and final sentence is based on MJ weight. So one oxy pill would be equal to 2grams of MJ. There are a fair amount of things that would need to be changed when it becomes legal. I do think it's a matter of time. I think it should be legalized. It just brings problems with it, like everything else.

I had been told, and maybe I was misinformed, that some counties in Oregon require pot be grown in a greenhouse instead of outside. Pot seems like a pretty permaculture friendly plant if grown properly outside. Growing it indoors is where the problems come from.

Anyway, just some interesting things I learned and wanted to share with the permie community. Feel free to educate me further!
 
pollinator
Posts: 3511
Location: Toronto, Ontario
453
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There have always been power issues with cannabis production, even when it was still illegal. In the era where criminals would hook up to utilities illegally to convert residential, commercial, or industrial spaces to illicit production, heat signatures, sometimes given away by something as simple as being the only house in a neighbourhood with no snow on the roof, and power distribution holes were one of the best ways to catch producers.

I don't think that legal cannabis will pose any more of a problem on power grids than any other start-up industry requiring a lot of power. If the money was in it, you'd see the same proliferation for hothouse tomato growing. A power grid needs to adapt to the needs of any new user base, be they residential, industrial, or commercial.

One thing I think would be a good idea is to couple new modular nuclear Molten Salt Reactors, and to a lesser extent, high-capacity hydroelectric projects, to high-draw commercial and industrial processes. One of the concerns with nuclear has always been an overproduction of energy. If the new generation of waste-eating nuclear also happened to promote the electrification of many petroleum-based industries, we'd have a clean power glut that was not only carbon-negative, but also radioactive waste-negative.

So we could theoretically, taking the cannabis model, have artificial light-augmented greenhouse growspaces, as exist already in many large-scale commercial operations in Canada, growing a high-value product, and use the biomass for a number of fibre-oriented uses, or just turn that biomass into soil.

But you're right about the concern of underserved municipalities being inundated by cannabis startups. It's just like any other power-hungry industry in that respect.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 790
Location: Southern Oregon
178
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in Oregon, and cannabis doesn't have to be grown in a greenhouse. I know that the home insurance agent said that they would not insurance cannabis growing if it is visible from the street, too much risk of theft. Hemp can be grown anywhere (from a legal side), but it is labeled as such, big signs.
 
Posts: 582
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
50
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maine passed rec. weed in 2016. were i live is very rural and i haven't heard of power issues, even in our cities. they use mostly high efficiency led lights now that only use 25% of the power of  the old metal halide lamps that were traditionally used in the past.  because of our short summers weed is hard to get to bud with out bud rot setting in as temps get down into the 50's at night but people do it all the time here and I'm in z3b so most of the country shouldn't have a issue growing it in their gardens and back yards. I've also noticed when grown organically in a garden setting theres no water pollution like you get when flushing indoor plants grown with chemical ferts. much better for the environment and the end product is much better smoking. mother nature does it best.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2721
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
221
forest garden solar
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just for comparison
Weed Revenue for the state of CO was 1 billion
Looking at Colorado GDP data for Total Agriculture/Forestry/Fishing it is only 3 billion. (The total for retail was 18.5 billion)
https://www.statista.com/statistics/594399/colorado-real-gdp-by-industry/
I am sure that weed does not use 1/3 of the agriculture energy usage or 1/18 of the retail energy usage.

Colorado GDP is $323 billion, I wonder if weed uses up 1/323th of Colorado energy expenditure to match its revenue.
Colorado Total Electric consumption was 53TWh so 1/323 of that is 0.164TWh or 164GWh, for some reason. I think it is less than that which would make it not as energy intensive compared to other industries on average.
https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/09/f33/CO_Energy%20Sector%20Risk%20Profile.pdf

It turns out most growers uses about 50% of their energy on heating, cooling +hot water. Similar to houses I suppose.


I wish I could figure out if the weed industry uses more or less than 164GWH and how it compares to other industries. Maybe I will do some more searching later

The weed industry also pays a special "weed tax" that amounts to 3% of Colorado total tax revenue even though it only generates 0.3% of the state GDP.
Colorado weed industry also indirectly increase it's tourism/hospitality industry, and others. But there is also other indirect cost too.
 
pollinator
Posts: 615
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
108
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is why I advocated our county focus on regulating mj growing through power and water usage rates that escalate for higher and higher use, regardless of if its for growing or smelting or any other high resource use activity.  I see this as a form of progressive taxation tied to the use of collective resources like power and water. If  a grower can do it off grid and be water quality/quantity positive (which I think one can do), then go all out. If not, the grower will pay for it on the bottom line.
 
gardener
Posts: 1520
Location: Cascades of Oregon
64
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm curious as to when municipalities begin to use marijuana/hemp in septic spray fields. Currently timothy hay is the crop that is used in many areas to reduce nitrates @ an agronomic rate. Marijuana/hemp would be a far more profitable and useful crop.
 
gardener
Posts: 510
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
184
hugelkultur dog trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

elle sagenev wrote:This article popped up while researching something for work and it blew my mind. grow houses blowing transformers. 45% of Denver, CO's new energy use is from MJ growers. Maybe this blows my mind so much because I am already in an energy unstable area. Our power goes out fairly frequently. I cannot imagine what would happen to our power grid if MJ growing was legal here. I do not think it could handle the increased use.



This triggered my spidey sense as a misleading metric so I dug in a bit:

These articles are from 2015, which is the first year it was legal to grow marijuana in Colorado (recreational sales were first allowed jan 1, 2014 and permits to build grow houses went out that year too, and electricity use reports are a year behind). So this growth seems staggering, except it was mostly a one-time hit from building an entire industry from scratch

While increased population has been responsible for most of Denver's 1.2% annual power demand growth, roughly 45% of it comes from pot growing facilities.



So that 45% is kind of a weird number. A more realistic headline would be Denver's power demand grows 0.6% from MJ growers. A little less sensational, unfortunately.

Estimate from that article is that MJ growing consumes 200 million kWh/yr. According to Colorado, the state uses 56,450,480 megawatt-hours/yr. That puts MJ use at 0.35% of the state's total electricity use. For a reference point: about 10% of Colorado's total electricity is used just for residential heating. So if we could improve residential heating by 3%, it would nullify all electricity used by grow houses.

Now is it silly to force indoor growing of a plant that would otherwise grow great in a greenhouse / outdoor? Yes. Am I terribly concerned about a electric source using 0.35%? Not in the least. Especially in a state where about 75% of electric production comes from coal an natrual gas.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 2721
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
221
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
MJ directly funds 3% of Colorado government spending, directly accounts for 0.3% of its GDP and uses 0.35% of its electricity.

Those 0.3% and 0.35% are pretty close and so I would say that it's revenues and electricity usage is on par with other industries. I wouldn't be surprised if it employees 0.3% of the workforce too.  

 
 
steve bossie
Posts: 582
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
50
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kyle Neath wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:This article popped up while researching something for work and it blew my mind. grow houses blowing transformers. 45% of Denver, CO's new energy use is from MJ growers. Maybe this blows my mind so much because I am already in an energy unstable area. Our power goes out fairly frequently. I cannot imagine what would happen to our power grid if MJ growing was legal here. I do not think it could handle the increased use.



This triggered my spidey sense as a misleading metric so I dug in a bit:

These articles are from 2015, which is the first year it was legal to grow marijuana in Colorado (recreational sales were first allowed jan 1, 2014 and permits to build grow houses went out that year too, and electricity use reports are a year behind). So this growth seems staggering, except it was mostly a one-time hit from building an entire industry from scratch

While increased population has been responsible for most of Denver's 1.2% annual power demand growth, roughly 45% of it comes from pot growing facilities.



So that 45% is kind of a weird number. A more realistic headline would be Denver's power demand grows 0.6% from MJ growers. A little less sensational, unfortunately.

Estimate from that article is that MJ growing consumes 200 million kWh/yr. According to Colorado, the state uses 56,450,480 megawatt-hours/yr. That puts MJ use at 0.35% of the state's total electricity use. For a reference point: about 10% of Colorado's total electricity is used just for residential heating. So if we could improve residential heating by 3%, it would nullify all electricity used by grow houses.

Now is it silly to force indoor growing of a plant that would otherwise grow great in a greenhouse / outdoor? Yes. Am I terribly concerned about a electric source using 0.35%? Not in the least. Especially in a state where about 75% of electric production comes from coal an natrual gas.

unfortunately , its all about maximum production and pest / disease control. indoors in hydroponics you can grow huge plants with no bug issues. its a constantly clean large crop. seeing how some of the people are using it as meds, you don't want any chance of molds getting i there for liability reasons but for the recreational smoker the weed grow noutdoors is just fine. a little neem oil controls bugs and mold.  ;)
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
Posts: 790
Location: Southern Oregon
178
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That seems odd. Most of the pest problems that I have seen with cannabis have been in greenhouses, not in hydroponics, but I don't know if that would change the issue. Bud rot is an issue with an outside growing. I would think that Colorado doesn't have a perfect climate for cannabis, but it does really well here in Oregon. You don't really want a lot of rain on the plants during flowering.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 3511
Location: Toronto, Ontario
453
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the reasons why the legal bud wins out for the conscientious recreational smoker, and the self-medicating cannabis patient, is the pest control. The list of things that can be used to control pests is very limited, such that predatory insects are pretty much the go-to.

One thing many modern smokers might not be familiar with is the idea of a flush of the plants before harvest. This was always done back in the day, or else you'd end up with unsmokably chemmy and sometimes noxious bud. So a two-week flush of all pesticides and fertilisers was standard.

This is apparently no longer being done in all corners of illicit production. As a result, as much as I feel that the free market system needs to supplant the government-owned and operated model, I am not willing to play illegal cannabis russian roulette with my health.

I was actually thinking about Travis' observation that increasing focus on efficiency is gradually strangling the energy economics in his state and others. I think that if increasing efficiency is an issue because there's less profit for power generation and distribution, that this sort of "problem" could be the feedstock for the solution. If there's too much power capacity, plug in some LED augmented, cannabis-grade greenhouse operations, or those hydroponic-farms-in-a-box cargo container packages. Put them wherever's convenient. If there's too much cannabis capacity, grow some food, using the same infrastructure and predatory insect pest controls, and sell the food at a premium.

I am personally more fond of those systems that incorporate living soil. Even in larger dutch bucket flood-and-drain setups, it's possible to have real, living soil in the nutrient-relevant strata of the root zone. In addition to complete plant nutrition, it offers resilience and a backup in case of power loss.

-CK
 
steve bossie
Posts: 582
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
50
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Chris Kott wrote:One of the reasons why the legal bud wins out for the conscientious recreational smoker, and the self-medicating cannabis patient, is the pest control. The list of things that can be used to control pests is very limited, such that predatory insects are pretty much the go-to.

One thing many modern smokers might not be familiar with is the idea of a flush of the plants before harvest. This was always done back in the day, or else you'd end up with unsmokably chemmy and sometimes noxious bud. So a two-week flush of all pesticides and fertilisers was standard.

This is apparently no longer being done in all corners of illicit production. As a result, as much as I feel that the free market system needs to supplant the government-owned and operated model, I am not willing to play illegal cannabis russian roulette with my health.

I was actually thinking about Travis' observation that increasing focus on efficiency is gradually strangling the energy economics in his state and others. I think that if increasing efficiency is an issue because there's less profit for power generation and distribution, that this sort of "problem" could be the feedstock for the solution. If there's too much power capacity, plug in some LED augmented, cannabis-grade greenhouse operations, or those hydroponic-farms-in-a-box cargo container packages. Put them wherever's convenient. If there's too much cannabis capacity, grow some food, using the same infrastructure and predatory insect pest controls, and sell the food at a premium.

I am personally more fond of those systems that incorporate living soil. Even in larger dutch bucket flood-and-drain setups, it's possible to have real, living soil in the nutrient-relevant strata of the root zone. In addition to complete plant nutrition, it offers resilience and a backup in case of power loss.

-CK

i have grow in soiless mixes with chem. nutrients and in organic super soils. hand down the organic super soils had better grown better tasting weed. not as much production but close. real live soil grows the best product but like you mentioned, not a good idea as pests and molds also like soil. not a good thing in a large $ indoor grow. as leds get better and more efficient power consumption will go down. its the disposing of hydroponic nutrient byproducts after harvest that worries me more.
 
Posts: 158
11
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i think you mean the plant cannabis
marijuana, marihuana etc likely refer to locoweed and datura
datura being the "devils weed" which can make people go mad
(see the jamestown weed story)
likely the plant being referred to in early prohibition propaganda
see: Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs
By Isaac Campos

cannabis "legalization" at least here in canada is more of a re-criminalization

we are allowed to grow just enough to catch a buzz but not enough to grow the plant for its many other uses

if everyone could grow it to their hearts content it would not be worth very much
and security requirements would disappear(which drive the price up currently)

if the price wasnt kept artificially high then people would not be running so many lights(along with other nefarious practices) and we could enjoy cheap high quality sun grown organic living soil cannabis

that all said i do want to try growing flax, nettles and milkweed for fibers
nettles are nutritious but do not contain omega fatty acids in a optimal balance of 3 6 and 9
thank you for letting me post in the ulcer factory!
 
steve bossie
Posts: 582
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
50
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maines rec. cannabis laws are some of the most liberal I've seen here in the states. your allowed to be in the possession of 6 mature plants alive, the dried weed from 6 mature plants on premises , 12 juvenile (over 12in but not budding) and unlimited seedlings under 12in. with me and my wife, thats a crazy amount of dope! but your not allowed to transport more than a ounce at a time or sell it without getting a dealers license. everyone grows it here. you drive around town in late summer you see some poking over peoples fences, in between their tomatoes or in pots on back decks. supposed to not be visible from a public way but no ones enforcing it. surprised they allowed this as the state has a 10% tax on medical pot but hey, I'm not complaining! hell people grow it that don't even smoke just because they can and the plants look nice! my 70 yr old neighbor had 5 of them growing in his back yard last summer. his grandkids played in them. i don't know what he did with them. maybe gave them to someone that uses it. the older people are just realizing how good cbd strains are for pain management. i grow and make cbd oil for the wife for her arthritis. works great and isn't hard on the liver like traditional pain meds. works good as a salve for sprains and prior painful injuries also. illegal cannabis growers have been completely put out of business and i know several that work in the medical dispensaries now.
 
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood - Fred Rogers. Tiny ad:
All about the Daily-ish Email!
https://permies.com/wiki/135969/Daily-ish-Email
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!