October 13, 2018 12:19 am

BC Hydro gearing up for surge in electricity demand from legal pot growers

WATCH: BC Hydro studying effects of legalized pot on power supply


BC Hydro is expecting a big spike in demand for power once cannabis is legalized across the country on Oct. 17.

Under the new laws, adults can grow up to four plants in their home.

“We know cannabis growing is incredibly energy intensive,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Tanya Fish.

READ MORE: B.C. strata councils scramble to prepare for cannabis legalization

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“And we have seen increasing interested from licensed cannabis growers looking to set up shop here in B.C.”

According to BC Hydro, legal cannabis production accounted for roughly 1,000 Gigawatt hours of electricity in 2017. That’s equivalent to running 100,000 households for an entire year.

That’s only expected to climb once cannabis is legalized, and Fish said BC Hydro is ready.

READ MORE: B.C. fire chiefs push for ban on homegrown pot as legalization looms

“We are fortunate in B.C. to have a large hydroelectric system. This allows us to respond quickly to changes in demand, and we do have the extra power needed to meet the growing needs of this industry,” Fish said.

Tantalus Labs is one of the large producers already working to minimize their electricity footprint, using legalization as an opportunity to reform the standard of indoor growing, taking it — at least partially — outside, instead.

“Ultimately, the best light source in terms of cannabis plant health, and certainly in terms of reducing energy costs, is sunlight,” said founder Dan Sutton.

“I think one of the best tools that we can use is the use of greenhouses as a cultivation mechanism. Our greenhouse uses about 90 per cent less electricity than a traditional cannabis grow-op.

READ MORE: Fraser Valley realtors say new rules needed to protect homebuyers from grow-ops

For those planning to grow at home, technology is on their side.

“Most of the new lighting is much more efficient in operating, and lower heat and operates at a lower wattage,” said John Lane of The Greenhouse Hydroponics in Langford.

However, not everyone will be able to grow their own pot at home.

B.C. landlords have the power to prohibit renters from growing cannabis plants, and a number of strata corporations are also looking into bylaws to block the practice.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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