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Using the Energy of the Florida Sun for Marijuana Cultivation

With Floridians voting overwhelmingly in the recent election to allow medical marijuana, the drug seems poised to grow past its recreational roots into big business for the state. For smart growers, solar energy will come along for the ride.

In 2015, President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. As a result, cities are working to reduce their carbon footprint. With licensed marijuana growers typically cultivating their products indoors under bright lights and tons of electricity, the push to reduce power consumption extends to them.

Lower costs with solar energy

Electricity usage increased by 1.2 percent across the city and county of Denver between 2012 and 2013 after marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012. Half of that uptick was due to commercial marijuana grows. While Denver marijuana grows still only used a small percentage (1.85%) of the city’s overall electricity, the growth was concerning given the city’s goal to keep total energy from rising above 2012 use levels.

According to an article in the Colorado Public Radio News, one 10,000-square-foot growing warehouse owned by Colorado Harvest Company was running up a $12,000 monthly electric bill in 2015. Why so much? The dozens of plants are growing 24 hours a day under 22 1,000-watt lamps with an air-conditioning system preventing the lights from overheating. Other facilities have reported nearly twice that amount in monthly charges.

In terms of the environment, Bloomberg states that the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. According to an independent study by Dr. Evan Mills, indoor growing operations in 2012 posted at least $6 billion a year in energy costs (accounting for 1% of all electricity in the United States), compared with $1 billion for pharmaceutical companies.

The contention of many is that economic growth does not necessarily have to mean greater energy demands. Utilizing solar panels is a good means of achieving a reduction in energy consumption (as well as cost savings) in the marijuana growing process.

How many Florida marijuana growers will utilize solar panels to power their efforts remains to be seen, but it’s clear that those focused on minimizing energy costs and reducing their carbon footprint will consider going solar as a strategic initiative.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can FPL or my HOA prevent me from switching to solar?

The Florida Solar Rights Act is a law that forbids any entity—including homeowner associations—from prohibiting the installation of solar or other renewable energy devices on Florida buildings.

An association may require approval of a system installation and may establish restrictions for installations. However, any such restrictions must be reasonable, not arbitrary, and applied in a uniform manner for all association members. Also, any restrictions must not have the effect of impairing the performance, or increasing the cost, of a solar system.

In particular, a homeowner association may not prevent the installation of solar collectors on the roof of a home. The association may determine where on the roof the collectors may be installed, so long as the collectors face within 45 degrees of due south.

Finally, any requirement(s) that a system be screened from view by trees, fences, ground mounting racks, or a remote roof location that is hidden from the street, will generally violate the statute.

Click here to verify information is provided by the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association

Is solar free for Florida homeowners?
  • The sun is free to everyone.
  • Solar panels and specific back-up battery systems qualify for a number of rebates, tax credits and incentives.
  • There is a cost associated with solar energy because you are paying for your system. 
  • Financing enables homeowners to make the transition with $0 upfront costs
  • Systems often cost the same amount monthly as your current FPL bill
  • Solar puts equity in your home because you own the system and increases the value a minimum of 4.1% - click here for the Zillow case study

Does solar increase my home value?

Not only can adding solar panels to a home save energy costs and help the environment, it also can potentially increase a home’s value. In 2019 Zillow found that homes with solar energy systems sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $9,274.

The sale premium varies substantially by market. In Riverside, Calif., for example, homes with solar-energy systems sold for 2.7% more than comparable homes without solar power—a markup of $9,926 for the median-valued home in the metro. In the greater New York City metro, solar-powered homes have a premium that is double that of Riverside. At 5.4%, that’s an extra $23,989 in value for the typical home in New York. In three other coastal metro areas—Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando, Fla.—homes with solar power can fetch a premium of around 4%.

Sun travels 91 million miles to power your home-1

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