The start of the month marks the first time that cannabis growers in the state can receive agricultural energy rates from the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. FM89’s Ezra David Romero explains.
Even though recreational marijuana can’t be sold in California until 2018 PG&E is now allowing current farmers growing cannabis for medical purposes and future recreational marijuana growers to qualify for agricultural energy rates. Denny Boyles with PG&E says that means cannabis will be treated just like other farm products like almonds and tomatoes.
“So when the law changed in California to allow the growth of cannabis we took a look at that and the decision was made to add them as customers eligible.”
Eligibility is dependent on the grower having a permit to operate locally and to certify that 70 percent of the energy used is for ag operations like pumping water and growing crops. Boyles says PG&E has opened the rate to licensed growers because of an extremely large need for electricity when growing cannabis.
“Pumping on an electrical pump can be a pretty big for farms or ranches and so adding them to this rate will represent the fact that that’s what they’re using it for and will allow them to save them a little money," says Boyles.
The rates are open for both indoor and outdoor grow operations, but do not apply to residential growers who can legally grow up to six plants in their homes under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
“It’s the same rule that would apply to any other crop," says Boyles. "If you have one orange tree you’re not necessarily going to be able to get an agricultural rater because you’re putting sprinklers on that one orange tree.”