Boulder City Council set to erase marijuana energy offset rule for non-growers


Boulder City Council is poised on Tuesday to eliminate energy usage offset requirements for medical and recreational marijuana retailers. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

Industry rep questions why other energy intensive fields aren’t subject to similar fees

Boulder’s medical and recreational marijuana retailers appear to be getting a break from a city council move slated for Tuesday that will limit energy usage offset requirements exclusively to pot growers.

Council documents say the policy change — which is on the consent agenda — would relieve the city from administrative costs that don’t return enough of a benefit to the city’s Energy Impact Offset Fund, to which all marijuana businesses can contribute to satisfy their obligations for helping the city bolster its renewable energy portfolio.

The fund was created in 2017 to help local cannabis businesses comply with city rules to balance out the industry’s massive demand for power.

Boulder in 2013 adopted a requirement for all marijuana businesses to offset 100 percent of their energy use either by using on-site solar power generation, subscribing to solar gardens or making another investment in renewable energy subject to city approval.

Fund made compliance possible

But the Energy Impact Offset Fund had to be created to allow for a cash in lieu of renewable energy mechanism because most pot cultivators have leases on their facilities that expire before on-site solar generation systems have enough time to provide a return on investment for growers, and because solar garden subscriptions did not prove to be a viable substitute.

While energy usage by pot cultivators — on which the offset requirements will remain — is significant, the city has found non-cultivation weed firms don’t use enough energy to justify the additional financial burden on them: the city found non-cultivation accounts for just 3 percent of the industry’s energy use, with the remaining 97 percent is attributed to grow operations, according to council documents.

“In the case of non-cultivation businesses, administrative costs are estimated to exceed the amount of funds being collected. By imposing these requirements only on licensed cultivation businesses, City Council still meets its original intent of having the new industry report energy use and mitigate its carbon emissions impact,” council documents state.

Cultivation accounts for bulk

Boulder’s marijuana industry accounts for 2 percent of the city’s total energy use and causes more than 14,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the city.

Boulder’s 44 pot cultivation facilities each use nearly 275,900 kilowatt-hours, or 12.1 million altogether, of energy during the average six-month billing period, city data shows, emitting 164 metric tons of carbon dioxide per facility, and they paid $5,710 apiece into the Energy Impact Offset Fund — compared to the city’s 25 non-cultivation pot firms averaging 14,200 kilowatt-hours each to average eight tons of carbon dioxide emissions, adding $294 apiece into the fund.

Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, and