Since marijuana is not legal federally, #Canndescent (the luxury #cannabis company) has had difficulty obtaining the financing needed to utilize #solar on its growing facility, which is 11,000 square feet. But recently, out in Desert Hot Springs, CA, this forward-thinking company installed the first on-site solar system to power a comprehensive cannabis growing operation in America. We are talking about a 282.6 kilowatt solar system. This system is capable of generating enough #energy to power roughly half of its growing operation.
Solar Changes: Time for the Green Industry to Literally “Go Green”
In terms of clean energy, the cannabis industry is making a much-needed effort. More than 1 percent of America’s energy supply is eaten up on a yearly basis because of the (legal) indoor marijuana growing industry. It releases more than 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and if you aren’t sure exactly what this number means, consider this: it’s equal to the amount emitted by roughly 3 million cars.
The problem is that things are tricky legally. Yes, marijuana is legal in some places (10 states in America, to be precise) while medical marijuana is legal in 33 states. Here’s the problem regarding solar power – marijuana is still thought of as an illegal substance federally. #Tom DiGiovanni, chief financial officer for Canndescent, says that for this reason it is difficult for cannabis operations to take advantage of the federal solar investment tax credit or low-interest loans.
Reasons to Go Solar
DiGiovanni discussed how since the beginning, back in 2016 when an 11,000 square foot growing facility was opened by Canndescent, the company has wanted to lessen its carbon footprint. Solar power certainly is feasible logistically, seeing as how the company is based in sunny California and the property has a very expansive layout. Really, why not go solar?
DiGiovanni actually worked previously in the solar industry in California. Nonetheless, the difficulty finding financing regarding solar for a cannabis project was not anticipated.
There are smaller growing operations that have been able to take advantage of renewable energy, such as solar. Sense is one of those companies. It runs on 100 percent renewable energy thanks to a local utility program that buys solar and wind. Unfortunately, it’s a different path for a large-scale growing operation, like Canndescent, to set up its own energy supply.
How Did Canndescent Go Solar?
In order to go solar, Canndescent had to think outside the box. The company was able to obtain a loan as a property owner, rather than as a cannabis company, in order to fund the solar project. The lender doesn’t view the loan as going to a company that grows cannabis; instead, they see it as an investment “against the dirt” according to DiGiovanni.
Palomar Solar, an installation company, worked with Canndescent to design the solar system. Taking the high road wasn’t exactly easy, as fire codes prevented the installation of solar panels on Canndescent’s growing facility’s rooftops. The company got creative, and built parking shelters to hold 734 solar panels. These solar panels provide more than 500,000 kilowatt hours of energy on an annual basis. Another benefit is that the #solar panel structures help to keep cars cool.
While it was not easy to get the financing worked out for this solar endeavor, it has been worthwhile. If cannabis becomes legal at a federal level, other growers won’t face the same challenges. Why? Because they would have the ability to obtain low-interest loans and tax credits. DiGiovanni predicts that it could be another few years before marijuana is legalized federally. Once that does happen, though, bank financing will be a whole lot easier, which would allow similar companies to get easier access to financing for solar.
According to DiGiovanni, Canndescent is certainly not the only cannabis company trying to lessen their carbon footprint and go solar. Keep following solar news to stay in the know – it’s high time for companies and individuals alike to go solar.