In a move that bring California marijuana production costs down significantly, the state’s largest public utility will allow marijuana growers the same discounts on energy that other farmers enjoy.
PG&E announced earlier this month that farmers are farmers. And when California voters approved the adult use of recreational cannabis in November, it would not discriminate against the fast-growing industry.
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“Cannabis is a legal crop in our state, like almonds and tomatoes. Agricultural growers now will be eligible for the same rate and energy efficiency programs as farmers of other crops,” said Deborah Affonsa, vice president of customer service at PG&E.
Recreational marijuana cannot be sold in California until January 2018, but existing medical marijuana growers and future recreational marijuana growers will be eligible for PG&E’s agricultural energy rate, according to the utility.
In a statement, PG&E specified the qualifications:
PG&E customers are eligible for agricultural energy rates if they have received a permit from their local jurisdiction for the cultivation of cannabis and if 70 percent or more of the annual energy use on the meter is for agricultural end-uses such as growing crops, pumping water for agricultural irrigation or other uses that involve agricultural production for sale which do not change the form of the product. The agricultural energy rate applies to both customers who grow cannabis outdoors and those who grow indoors in commercial greenhouses.
Cannabis growing operations are energy-intensive. But PG&E’s policy change may actually help farmers become more energy efficient.
“We’ve met with representatives of the emerging legal cannabis industry and listened to their needs. We are here to help our customers make smart, efficient and affordable energy choices. Now that cannabis is in California’s future, our next step is to work with these new agricultural customers and make this industry as energy efficient as possible,” said Affonsa.
Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, a trade group that represents cannabis farmers,welcomes the rate change.
“It’s another one of those reminders that we are making progress,” he said told the Press Democrat, a northern California newspaper.
According to Allen, the energy savings could be as much as 60 percent off a grower’s electrical bills.