Part II: Problems and Potential Solutions
Roger Bezdek is currently the president of Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI), in Washington, D.C. He has served as a senior advisor in the office of the Secretary of the Treasury and as research director at the Department of Energy. He is the author of six books and over three hundred publications in scientific and technical journals, including a dozen articles in Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Mike Harshfield is the COO/CDO of Blackline Land Management Group, which executes scalable, technology-driven solutions to solve critical business needs in the cannabis market. An experienced senior executive, he has worked with start-ups as well as Fortune 50 companies.
Sean Tegart is President and CEO of BIOS, Biological Innovation and Optimization Systems. It is a provider of research, design, and development of biological lighting products to enhance the health and well-being of people, plants, and animals.
Ujjval Vyas, a Principal at Alberti Group LLC, has decades of experience in sustainability, construction, and emerging technology working with the National Institute of Building Sciences, Willis North America, the Pro-Demnity Insurance Company, Bureau Veritas, and the Construction Specifications Institute. He has taught classes in sustainability and real estate and classes in emerging technologies and the law.
The authors would like to acknowledge the technical assistance of Tony Lindsay in the preparation of this article.
In the March 2017 issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly, we noted that the U.S. cannabis industry is experiencing explosive growth. The industry is extremely energy-intensive and is already placing strains on some individual utilities and local grids.
This has surprised utilities, PUCs, and government officials. These problems will only intensify in 2017 and beyond, due to the success of November 2016 cannabis ballot legalization initiatives and impending legislative actions. Here we discuss the implications for utilities and PUCs and explore potential solutions.
Utilities and Public Utility Commissions Need Data and Policies
The cannabis industry is just emerging from the shadows, and utilities lack adequate experience and data to forecast its future electrical demands. According to cannabis marketing consultant John Morris, who works with growers and utilities, "We don't have aggregated energy audits from hundreds of grow operations that show us an energy footprint. We have utilities in the Northwest putting in new transformer substations to meet the load. Producers are having to go out and build infrastructure."