Marijuana-growing spikes Denver electric demand, challenges clean-power plan
GOLDEN — Surging electricity consumption by Colorado’s booming marijuana industry is sabotaging Denver’s push to use less energy — just as the White House perfects a Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution.
Citywide electricity use has been rising at the rate of 1.2 percent a year, and 45 percent of that increase comes from marijuana-growing facilities, Denver officials said Wednesday.
Denver has a goal of capping energy use at 2012 levels. Electricity is a big part of that.
The latest Xcel Energy data show cannabis grow facilities statewide, the bulk of which are in Denver, used as much as 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity in 2014, utility officials said. City officials said 354 grow facilities in Denver used about 121 million kwh in 2013, up from 86 million kwh at 351 facilities in 2012.
“Of course we want to grow economically. But as we do that, we’d like to save energy,” city sustainability strategist Sonrisa Lucero said.
She and other Denver officials joined 30 business energy services and efficiency leaders seeking U.S. Department of Energy guidance Wednesday at a forum in Golden. Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr said feds will promote best practices and provide technical help through an Office of Technology Transitions.