California Sets Goal Of 100 Percent Clean Electric Power By 2045

California has established an ambitious goal of relying entirely on zero-emission energy sources for its electricity by the year 2045.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating the electricity target on Monday. He also issued an executive order calling for statewide carbon neutrality — meaning California “removes as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits” — by the same year.

“This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond,” Brown said in a statement. “It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.”

As the Trump administration rolls back federal efforts to combat climate change, California has actively pursued a leading role in the international fight against global warming.

The latest announcement comes shortly before Brown heads to San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit.

The bill specifically requires that 50 percent of California’s electricity to be powered by renewable resources by 2025 and 60 percent by 2030, while calling for a “bold path” toward 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045. (“Zero-carbon” sources include nuclear power, which is not renewable.)

Previously, California had mandated 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

California is not the first state with such ambitions — in 2015, Hawaii established a goal of 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2045.

But, as KQED’s Lauren Sommer reported last year, “California uses about 30 times more electricity than Hawaii and is the fifth largest economy in the world.”

California already gets a substantial portion of its electricity from renewable resources.

The California Energy Commission estimates that 32 percent of retail energy sales were powered by renewable sources last year.

But the supply of renewable energy varies from day to day — even moment to moment.

NPR’s Planet Money reported that on a sunny day this June, nearly 50 percent of the state’s electricity came from solar energy alone.

But as Sommer reported last year, that variability means it’s tricky to get renewable energy supply to match up with electricity demand:

“The sun and wind aren’t always producing power when Californians need it most, namely, in the evening.

“The state’s other power plants, like natural gas and nuclear, aren’t as flexible as they need to be to handle those ups and downs. Hydropower offers the most flexibility but is scarce during drought years.”

Large-scale energy storage systems can help address that problem, Sommer said, as could a “better-connected transmission grid system.”

California has dramatically stepped up its climate-change policies four times in the last four years, as Capital Public Radio’s Ben Bradford reported last month.

Before the new 100 percent zero-emission goal, lawmakers approved “higher renewable energy use, tighter greenhouse gas targets, and extension of the cap-and-trade program,” he wrote.

The new bill was supported by Democrats who emphasized the damaging consequences of climate change, while opposed by state Republicans who highlighted the policy’s financial costs, Bradford reported.

California’s utilities had been on track to meet the previous goal, of 50 percent clean power by 2030, “but scientists debate whether cost-efficient 100 percent clean energy is feasible or if it would require new technological advances,” Bradford wrote.

Some cities across the U.S. have attained 100 percent renewable electricity or energy supplies — including Aspen, Colo., Burlington, Vt., and Georgetown, Texas.

And earlier this year, for one entire month, Portugal produced enough renewable energy to meet its entire electrical demand — although the country did rely on fossil fuels to balance out the periodic disconnect between supply and demand.

As NPR reported at the time:

“For most countries in the world, a fully renewable energy supply still seems like a challenging target. Some small island nations have managed it — and a few larger countries, too.

Iceland and Norway meet essentially all of their electrical needs through hydro and geothermal power, and have for years — but those countries take advantage of extraordinary geology, making the accomplishment hard to replicate.

“Several small islands are all-green, but larger countries are rare. On particularly windy days in 2015 and 2017, Denmark exceeded its electrical needs through wind power alone.

“And several times in the past few years, Costa Rica has kept on the lights through on all-renewable power for several months, fueled by heavy rains that fed into hydroelectric facilities.”

CorrectionSept. 10, 2018

A previous version of this story stated that California was setting a goal for 100 percent renewable electrical energy sources. In fact, the ultimate goal calls for zero-emissions sources, which include renewable resources as well as nuclear power, which is a non-renewable zero-carbon energy source.


This article was originally published on on Sept 10, 2018 by Camila Domonoske

Electric Utilities Work With Cannabis Growers to Save on Power Costs

Understanding how your utility is charging you for electricity and how to maximize your electricity consumption in order to maximize your yield is essential for your business.

Despite knowing for years that electricity is a major expense that can significantly affect everyone’s bottom line, marijuana businesses – especially growers – are still struggling to keep costs manageable.

The good news is that a burgeoning number of utility companies are working with cannabis cultivators to better manage costs by:

  • Conducting in-depth case studies to better understand energy-consumption issues.
  • Assigning employees to work exclusively with marijuana businesses.
  • Recommending lighting as well as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, which they say can save cultivators tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Here are some of the points growers are focusing on as they consider potential energy savings:

1. Keep an open mind

Electricity consumption typically is the second-largest cost incurred by indoor cultivation facilities.

That said, marijuana business executives can benefit from working with utility operators – provided an MJ exec is willing to as well.

“In May of 2017, I started devoting 100% of my time to the cannabis operations coming into our territory, knowing that all those companies were going to fill one portfolio of commercial account management,” said Matt McGregor, strategic account manager, cannabis operations, for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).

McGregor estimates he has roughly 200 marijuana customers, mostly growers, but also about two dozen customers involved in extraction, infusion, processing and packaging.

While more cultivators are accepting or seeking help from utilities, many remain leery.

“Some growers are extremely open and want us to learn,” McGregor said, “and some, we have just one conversation with and then we never see them again.”

2. Understand the public/private difference

Not all energy companies are willing to help. Their cooperation depends in large part on whether they are dependent on one of the nation’s four federal power administrations which serve most of the United States, or one of the nation’s federally owned companies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Utilities that receive their power from these federal entities generally balk at providing cannabis businesses because they fear federal interference.

Private utilities are less prone to those fears. Consider Puget Sound Energy (PSE), an investor-owned utility in Washington state, which has helped about 80 cannabis customers with about 100 energy-savings projects since 2014.

PSE doesn’t get power or conservation funds from the region’s federal power company, the Bonneville Power Administration.

Rather, PSE buys the power it sells to customers off the market or from its own power generation.

“So, we didn’t have to be concerned about losing federal funding by serving the cannabis sector,” said David Montgomery, an energy management engineer with PSE.

He added that cannabis businesses are “legal within the state and the state is our governing body, so we’re going to treat them like any other customer.”

Xcel Energy – a private utility operator serving eight Western and Midwestern states including Colorado – goes by the same premise.

“We work with marijuana companies because they are legal operating entities in the state of Colorado,” Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said.

“We are regulated at the state level, and to deny services would be in violation of state law.”

3. Consider the mutual benefit for both growers and utilities

It’s also in the interest of utilities to help growers cut their costs.

As more customers demand more energy, utility companies may have to build new power plants to supply customers’ demands, which is costly.

It’s cheaper to persuade existing customers to reduce energy usage by using conservation practices and buying newer, more efficient lighting and HVAC.

“It was difficult in the first several years of legalization from an operational distribution standpoint to meet the needs of some of the growers,” Xcel’s Stutz observed.

The utility had historically set up electric distribution systems in warehouse areas that were meant to meet certain loads.

Later, these districts became home to cannabis cultivators, and the energy consumption increased dramatically, he explained.

“This meant that we often had to upgrade distribution to meet the higher, 24-hour demand for use,” Stutz said.

Now, utilities are looking to the cannabis industry as a place where they can help customers take pressure off the grid.

“With the legalization of the cannabis market in Massachusetts, and the fact that this business is extremely energy-intensive, this is an agricultural area where there is opportunity to proactively influence the design of these facilities in order to mitigate their very significant energy demand,” noted Robert Kievra, a spokesman for National Grid, a major utility in Massachusetts.

About 70% of the cannabis facilities in National Grid’s service area participate their rebate and incentive programs, Kievra added.

4. Consider LED and HVAC technologies 

Energy companies say the best way for marijuana growers to reduce their energy consumption is to switch from conventional lights to LED, and to upgrade HVAC.

But many growers remain skeptical of LED lights, something that McGregor blames on a lack of education.

“Trying out LED technology from two years ago is like trying out a 10-year-old laptop,” McGregor said.

Because cultivators also have a lot to gain from marijuana-related energy rebates and incentives, lighting companies are often the ones connecting utilities with growers.

“The folks who are really out there pushing LEDs, and saying PSE has money available, are the lighting companies and their reps,” PSE’s Montgomery noted.

“They’ll bring us growers with whom we can do projects with,” added Montgomery, noting that his company works with about six lighting firms that provide customers with LED technology.

“The lighting companies are aware of our incentive programs, so when they’re selling lights they tell the growers, ‘Hey, we can work with PSE. They have cash available to help pay for these lights because they’re more efficient.”

Montgomery estimated he saves his marijuana customers about 50 million kilowatt hours per year.

A kilowatt hour is a unit measuring the amount of watts used over 60 minutes. For example, 1,000 watts of power used for one hour represent one kilowatt hour.

Despite outreach from PSE and lighting companies, cannabis businesses may have not taken much advantage of incentive programs.

For example, Montgomery reckoned that LED lights should be installed at about one light per a 4-foot-by-4-foot area of canopy.

That means 10,000 square feet of canopy would require about 625 lights, with each light costing about $1,000 each.

Montgomery said PSE typically picks up 50%-70% of that cost through rebates, although it’s sometimes lower based on the types of lights that are chosen.

“Even if we can pay a big part of it, they’re still on the hook for their portion of the project costs,” he observed.

This article was originally published in MJ Biz Daily. written by

Omar Sacirbey  who can be reached at


Lowering Electricity Bills Without Sacrificing Crop Yields

Electricity consumption is typically the second-biggest cost incurred by indoor cultivation facilities (and often greenhouses), behind labor. According to cultivation company data analyzed by the nonprofit Resource Innovation Institute, grow facilities on average expend about 275,000 kilowatt hours per square foot of canopy. Some grows spend much more, while outdoor grows spend little or nothing on electricity, according to Derek Smith, executive director of the Portland, Oregon-based research organization.

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The high cost of electricity for indoor growing shouldn’t come as a shock, so to speak, given a grow facility’s need for lighting, air conditioning, dehumidifying and other demands. “ The more competitive the market gets, the more people are going to have to pay attention to resource management,” said Casey Rivero, head grower at Yerba Buena in Hillsboro, Oregon. “Power is one of your biggest costs, and being able to efficiently maximize your power is key.”

While reducing your cultivation site’s electric bill without making major sacrifices on yield and quality may sound like a tall order, there are ways to do it. The two biggest consumers of electricity, according to a 2014 study performed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, are lighting, which accounts for about 38% of energy consumption, and dehumidification and ventilation, at 30%. Cooling takes up 21% of power demands, while the remaining 11% of power use can be attributed to heating, water management, CO2 and curing. That said, the easiest place to seek energy savings is through lighting – in addition to heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC. Here are three ways to cut your electricity bill.

1) Determine How Much Juice You’re Consuming

To save on power, you first must know how much electricity you’re consuming and what it is being used for, such as lighting and HVAC. The simplest way to measure how much you’re using is to calculate your kilowatts per day.  Next, estimate how many hours per day your lighting and HVAC equipment are running and at what power level to understand how much juice is going to each. Growers should know that the amount of lighting and HVAC being used will depend where plants are in the growth cycle. Outside conditions play a role, too, because air conditioners and dehumidifiers must work harder on hot and/or humid days, respectively.

“It’s kind of a guestimate, but it’s better than nothing,” Rivero said. To get more accurate data, Rivero suggests using power monitors that can be placed on breaker boxes to track electricity consumption based on a particular power source, such as a specific wall of air conditioning units or lighting panels. How many breaker boxes a cultivation facility has varies on the size and design of the facility as well as what kind of power service systems (single phase or three phase) and voltage power the site. Yerba Buena, for example, has individual subpanels for lighting in every room as well as a panel for each of the facility’s 10 HVAC units. There are also panels for less power intensive equipment, like water pumps. Basic power monitors cost between $600 and $1,000, while the most expensive models can hit $10,000, Rivero estimated.

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A cultivation site doesn’t need to buy a power monitor for every breaker. But having several makes it easier to run comparisons, say between different grow rooms, different days or between lighting and HVAC units within a room. In addition, energy-management companies can install data equipment to make it easier to track and manage power consumption.

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2 ) Get the Lowdown on LEDs

While lighting uses the most electricity at indoor grow sites, most cultivators still use high-pressure sodium lights, typically 1,000 watts. Not only is the wattage a major energy drain, but HPS lights produce high heat, forcing air conditioners and dehumidifiers to work harder adding to utility bills. More efficient and environmentally friendly LED lights have been around for several years, but only a small number of growers have adopted them. Many growers acknowledge that LED lights are more efficient but argue that they don’t produce the yields that HPS lights do and, therefore, reject them. For example, Massachusetts marijuana industry executives were up in arms in March after regulators imposed a cap on electricity use amounting to 36 watts per square foot of cultivation space. The move, in effect, forced growers to adopt LED lights a move some executives hope to overturn.

When Allison Justice arrived at San Diego County, California-based OutCo in late 2016, she also was told that LED lights couldn’t perform like HPS lights, and that whatever the cost savings, they would be lost to the lower yields that were expected. Justice, OutCo’s director of cultivation, wanted to see for herself, so last year she started running trials comparing 1,000- watt HPS lights with LED lights from Fluence, a commercial LED firm whose wattages were 330, 560, 660 and 1,000. More wattage equals more light intensity. Testing on two strains, Justice and her colleagues found the LED 1,000-watt lights produced 21% higher yield than 1,000-watt HPS lights, while 660-watt LEDs resulted in 13% more yield and a 37% drop in energy use. At 37% decrease, Justice noted, didn’t account for savings from the air conditioners, which ran less because LEDs give off less heat. Justice acknowledges that LEDs are more expensive – a Fluence 660 is about $1,280, while a standard HPS light is around $400 but the cost is more than outweighed by the energy savings and increased yield.

Another advantage of LED’s: They allow growers to “double stack” a layer of plants on top of another one, effectively doubling the cultivation space. How? Because HPS lights are so hot, they must be farther from the plants than LED lights, which are cooler. “It’s like getting another facility for free. The ROI on that is a no-brainer,” Justice said, referring to return on investment.

Following the successful tests, OutCo started retrofitting its facility for LED lights late last year, essentially interrupting production for six weeks to tear out old benches and lights and install new rolling benches, irrigation, drainage, HVAC and other equipment. Since then, Justice and her team have harvested two crops each of several strains, including Mendo Breath, Cookie Pucker, Grape Pie, Strawberry Banana and Black Jack. “Yield and quality is phenomenal,” Justice said. “ There’s always tweaking to do when you start something like this. Overall we’re very happy.” Other cultivators are also gaining confidence in LEDs. “I was a holdout because I never saw the production that I could get out of an HID (high-intensity discharge) with an LED. They are now rapidly catching up,” said Eli McLean, a cultivation consultant and commercial grower in Salem, Oregon. “Once you run the numbers, you realize that you get good yield of top-shelf cannabis that cost me a third less to produce.”

McLean is now researching LED lights with quantum dot technology that he said operate at about 91-92 degrees Fahrenheit. The lights are manufactured by a company called QD Grow. “ is means you’ll need far less latent cooling because you have far less latent heat,” McLean said. “I think you can see savings on your cooling costs of up to 65% for LED versus what’s being used today.”

3) Make Your HVAC Less Power Hungry

Finding ways to reduce HVAC power use is good for the environment and your company’s finances. Yerba Buena was able to get rid of its dehumidifiers, for example, which significantly reduced the company’s utility bills. How did the Oregon grower do it? It adapted sensors that measure leaf moisture and air humidity and wired them to activate air conditioners (which also perform dehumidification) when the leaf surfaces reach a certain moisture level. Remember that leaf surfaces can transpire moisture because of heat from grow lights. By activating air conditioners when leaves start to transpire – versus waiting for a preset interval Rivero can both absorb air humidity and lower temperatures that had risen because of light heat. That, in turn, reduces leaf transpiration even more.

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By reducing overall plant transpiration, and more efficiently timing air conditioning use, Yerba Buena was able to regulate and reduce humidity, so it could be handled by air conditioning alone. e company ditched its last dehumidifier in February. “Our goal is to stabilize that humidity and heat. You need to pay attention to the leaf surface, because the leaf surface temperature is what’s going to allow that water to come out of the plant,” Rivero said. “ The more sensing and control equipment you have that talks with HVAC and lighting together rather than separately, the easier it is to achieve that balance, as opposed to having those things separate and hope they line up.”

This article was originally published in Marijuana Business Magazine • July 2018