Many California marijuana growers are up in arms over a recent proposal before the state Public Utilities Commission that would require all indoor cultivation operators to use only LED lights by 2023.
If implemented, the proposal could cost cannabis businesses hundreds of millions of dollars, the growers say.
The proposal is part of a lengthy report issued this month by the Codes and Standards Enhancement (CASE) Program. It would force indoor growers to transition away from lower-efficiency grow lights, such as metal halide or high-pressure sodium (HPS), which are favored by some indoor growers over costlier LEDs.
“It’s very important to consider the upfront costs and … how growers will pay for that,” Amber Morris, director of government affairs for NorCal Cannabis, said during a recent webinar organized by the United Cannabis Business Association.
At this point, she said, it’s impossible for NorCal to transition to greenhouses in order to save the money it would cost the company to comply with the proposed requirement.NorCal Cannabis has roughly 70,000 feet of indoor marijuana canopy that it’s spent “millions” on building out, Morris said.
It would cost NorCal at least $5.6 million to install LED lights for the entire canopy, estimated Bob Gunn, the CEO of Seattle-based energy consulting firm Seinergy.
He also estimated it would cost roughly $255 million for all of California’s indoor growers to change over.
That figure is based on a 2019 statistic in the CASE report that found California has roughly 3.4 million square feet of indoor canopy licensed for cannabis cultivation.
Gunn said LED lights typically cost about $60-$90 more per square foot of canopy than traditional HPS lighting systems. HPS systems use more energy but are cheaper upfront.
Published: July 22, 2020
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