Council to consider dropping energy offset for Boulder’s marijuana businesses

Photo by Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash

All marijuana businesses in Boulder are required to offset 100% of their electricity use, either through the purchase of renewables or by buying into a clean energy fund. On Tuesday, council will consider ending that requirement for all but the most power-hungry operations: growing facilities.

Colorado Sun recently reported that the healthy marijuana industry is wrecking climate goals in Denver and Boulder. But not all pot businesses are expending equally.

Every weed company in Boulder has been required to offset energy consumption since 2013, but it wasn’t until 2015 that they began tracking that consumption. The subsequent data revealed that the city’s 25 non-cultivation facilities account for just 3% of electricity use in the industry locally, according to a staff memo provided to council.

Each grow uses, on average, 275,852 kWh per six months. Other weed facilities (retail stores, infused-product producers) consume just a fraction of that: 14,209 kWh in that same time, again on average. Emissions are similarly weighted: 164 metric tons of CO2 is produced over six months for each cultivation; non-cultivators contribute 8 tons.

Though cost specifics weren’t detailed in the memo to council, staff did say the energy offset rules are placing a financial burden on businesses and the city.

Based on this analysis, city staff estimates that the labor costs for non-cultivation facilities to complete reporting, verify accuracy of Xcel Energy data and process payments, result in a disproportionately high cost to them based on their minimal environmental impact as compared to cultivation facilities,” staff wrote. “Similarly, administrative costs for city and county staff for managing reporting, invoicing and enforcing payments negates the benefits of any fees collected from the non-cultivation facilities.

The matter will be considered on first reading during a packed consent agenda, which also includes a fourth reading of the recently updated towing ordinance, a first consideration of annexing two properties east of the city and a cleanup of the opportunity zone moratorium.

City Council meeting: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, 1777 Broadway

— Shay Castle,, @shayshinecastle

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