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Feds Punish Legit Cannabis Growers With Higher Electricity Rates


(Michael Byrne)  I live in a public utility district, which is where my county provides things like water and electricity. We have the interesting and quite rare benefit of an extremely local power supply in the form of the Bonneville Dam, whose 20 turbines generate some 4,465,800 MWh of electricity annually, which is sold to public and private utilities across seven different western states and Canada, including my own tiny PUD. It’s a curious and generally beneficial arrangement, but less so for local weed growers.

The dam was built in the 1930s under the watch of President Franklin D Roosevelt. Roosevelt thought that electricity should be a public resource and the newly created Bonneville Power Administration should be the antithesis of private energy monopolies. In its early years, the dam, which was constructed using federal funds, provided power at a fixed rate. It still sells power on a not-for-profit basis, as do the other 30 dams on the Columbia River now under the purview of the BPA.

Quite by accident, I came across Resolution No. 2488 Exhibit B of PUD No. 1 of Skamania County. This is a unique electricity rate schedule that applies only to cannabis growers in my county. The basic rate is $68 per month, which is $48 more than than the basic rate for a regular commercial entity. The gist:

To all services consuming electricity for purposes of producing and/or processing cannabis as authorized under Washington State law. To include all applications for service with load associated with such producing and/or processing activities. Customers qualifying for this rate schedule are not eligible for federally funded conservation or other financial assistance provided through the Bonneville Power Administration.

To be clear, $68 is not a bad deal in the grand scheme of electricity rates, but in principle it’s completely ridiculous. Another reason the feds need to catch up to weed reality already.