The Cannabis Industry Energy Challenge

The Cannabis Industry Energy Challenge

A Power Industry View of the Cannabis-Energy Nexus

January 27-28, 2021 | Online :: Central Time

“This is my first conference of this type and I loved it! All of the speakers had great content and I am much more informed about the challenges the industry is facing.”  – Technical Manager, Design Lights Consortium

“Great information!  Used actual case studies; all info was really great and speakers were very professional.” – Business Sustainability Coordinator, City of Boulder

“Overall, an excellent group of speakers.” – VP Marketing & Strategic Planning, Girtz Industries

The rapid growth of the legal marijuana market has been nothing short of an economic and cultural phenomenon, transforming what was once a criminal market into a mainstream, multi-billion-dollar global industry.  Projections on the continued growth of the legal cannabis industry are strong, with one recent study estimating American marijuana businesses could reach an annual value of $130 billion in the U.S. economy by 2024 –  increasing a staggering 181% from the ~$42 billion revenue of legal cannabis sales in 2019 (Marijuana Business Factbook 2020, 8th Ed.).

As the paradigm of marijuana legalization continues to grow across the U.S., it is important to take note of the profound nexus between the cannabis and energy industries.  Marijuana cultivation is an extremely energy-intensive business, with indoor-growing facilities requiring massive amounts of energy for lighting, venting, and de-humidification.  In 2012, even before the legalization wave started in earnest, one study found that legal indoor marijuana growing facilities accounted for 1% of national electricity use at a cost of roughly $6 billion per year, already rivaling energy consumption of data centers. 

This virtual conference will explore the role of energy industry engagement with their new cannabis customers, evaluating key considerations and planning needs that electric utilities must confront when operating in a market for legal marijuana grows, considering:

  • Energy and technical requirements for marijuana cultivation
  • Cutting edge research on horticultural lighting, best equipment, and facility design solutions for efficiency
  • Designing effective utility programs and efficiency rebate incentives for cannabis customers
  • The growing landscape of energy codes and standards in various state marijuana markets
  • Power operations, grid reliability and load forecasting
  • Policy/rate-design options
  • Legal and regulatory compliance

Learning Outcomes

  • Review growth of the legal cannabis industry on a national level and its impact on electricity consumption
  • Identify states that are enacting energy codes and standards specifically for marijuana cultivators
  • Discuss the impact of the cannabis industry to utility system operations and the power grid
  • Discuss the unique legal, regulatory, and financing challenges for utilities
  • Assess energy requirements for a typical marijuana cultivation facility
  • Determine methods to improve the sustainability of marijuana cultivation and energy usage
  • Evaluate optimal HVAC and engineering designs for energy efficient marijuana grow rooms
  • Review case studies and hear from electric utilities around the country on:
    • Energy efficiency incentives
    • Initiatives to manage energy consumption
    • Engagement and operational planning with the cannabis industry
    • Quantifying and offsetting cannabis energy consumption techniques
    • Smart-metering solutions
  • Assess tips to manage power delivery to a pipeline of new cannabis customers
  • Review initiatives to standardize best horticultural lighting practices and understand how national standards will help utilities create optimal incentive programs



EUCI is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard. IACET is recognized internationally as a standard development organization and accrediting body that promotes quality of continuing education and training.

EUCI is authorized by IACET to offer 0.9 CEUs for this conference and 0.3 CEUs for the workshop.


Requirements for Successful Completion of Program

Participants must log in each day and be in attendance for the entirety of the course to be eligible for continuing education credit.

Instructional Methods

Case Studies, Panel Discussions and PowerPoint presentations will be used in the program.


Wednesday, January 27, 2021 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In and Welcome

9:00 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. :: Conference Timing

9:00 – 9:05 a.m. :: Conference Introduction & Overview

9:05 – 10:15 a.m. :: The Cannabis Energy Challenge – Understanding the Nexus of the Energy and Cannabis Industries

  • Cannabis industry landscape and projected growth in legal marijuana sales
    • Status of U.S. marijuana laws – recreational and medicinal
    • Global cannabis industry growth and legality trends
    • Trends for growing style: greenhouse, indoor and outdoor
  • National cannabis electricity consumption and the cannabis’ ‘carbon footprint conundrum’
  • Status of industry standards
    • standards are evolving
    • State energy standards/codes specific to cannabis cultivation
  • What utilities need to know and track – tips for navigating the ever-changing marijuana landscape and their impacts to their marijuana business partners
  • Grid impacts of legal grows: challenges for electric utilities
  • Data challenges and barriers to information sharing, best practices and collaboration
  • Cultural and social challenges
    • Benchmarking and disclosure
    • Product labeling
  • Energy challenges for marijuana industry
    • High cost of capital
    • Utility inexperience
  • “Utility Primer” toolkit for effectively working with cannabis industry
    • Strategic planning and collaboration
    • Program design
    • Evaluation and market engagement
  • Overview of peer reviewed industry best practices for controlled environment agriculture for cannabis grow-ops

Gretchen Schimelpfenig, Technical Director, Resource Innovation Institute (RII)

10:15 – 11:45 a.m. :: Marijuana Cultivation, Energy Consumption and Sustainability 101: Optimizing Design of Cultivation Facilities

  • The complexity of the cannabis plant and its energy needs for growth
  • Cultivation factors
  • Equipment overview
  • Energy use factors
    • Grow style and grow medium
    • Strain differentiation – indica sativa
  • Indoor
  • Greenhouse
  • Outdoor
  • Marijuana growth cycle and technology/energy requirements
    • Veg
    • Clone
    • Flowering
  • Clean energy and sustainable solutions for cultivation
  • Best energy usage and water management practices
  • Evaluating practices and pathways to make the cannabis industry more environmentally viable
  • Developing sustainable standards and practices for both indoor and outdoor certification
  • Enabling siting policies for greenhouse growing facilities — is this a viable path?

Jacob Policzer, President, Cannabis Conservancy

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: California Energy Codes & Standards for Growers and the Proposed LED Mandate

  • California Energy Commission (CEC) regulation process – how are regulations created?
    • Considerations for achieving state decarbonization and building electrification mandates
  • CEC standards applicable to cannabis cultivation grow equipment
    • lighting, venting, HVAC
    • appliance standards on fans and blowers for indoor horticulture
    • other technologies being looked at
  • Proposed CEC standard for mandated LED lighting in marijuana grow facilities
    • overview of CEC stakeholder engagement process
    • what it would mean for cannabis growing facilities and retrofits
  • How are agricultural buildings regulated by the Energy Code?
  • Possible other regulations/future developments that could impact cannabis
    • renewables
    • upcoming California commercial building efficiency standards

Thao Chau, Electrical Engineer- Building Standards Office of the Efficiency Division, California Energy Commission (CEC)

12:30 – 1:15 p.m. :: Break for Lunch

1:15 – 2:00 p.m. :: Utility Lessons Learned Across the U.S. – Program Design, Streamlining Hookups & Managing Power Delivery

  • Key considerations for effectively designing utility programs for cannabis customers
    • Utility program design research with utilities across the country
    • Case studies on different approaches to utility programs
  • Helping growers plug into utility programs for energy efficiency
  • Overcoming delays for power delivery to new customers
  • Managing constraint/capacity
  • Helping growers navigate customer hook up processes
  • Regional coordination
    • Consistent messaging about energy issues to growers
    • Providing the right type of incentives and time of use rates

John Morris, Vice President – Market Development, D+R International

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. :: Utility Case Study: National Grid – East Coast Efficiency Strategies for Cannabis Customers

  • Overview of marijuana markets in National Grid territory
    • Recreational: Maine and Massachusetts since 2018
    • Medical markets: RI, VT, MA, NY
  • Massachusetts’ energy code – impacts on growers and National Grid’s efficiency efforts
  • Overview of National Grid’s energy efficiency measures & incentives for cannabis customers
    • program design
    • program trends, uptake, & growth rate
    • solutions: what’s working?
  • Efficiency strategies & technologies for cultivators:
    • HVAC
    • Gas and driven chillers
    • Heat recovery methods
  • Issues with small vs. large growers
    • Upfront system costs impacting technology choice

Francis Boucher, Energy Efficiency Program Manager, National Grid

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. :: Afternoon Break

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. :: Cannabis in the Midwest – Update on State Programs, Energy Codes & Utility Engagement

  • Cannabis Midwest market update
    • Recreational: Illinois and Michigan in 2020
    • Medicinal: Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri and Kansas
  • How cannabis programs are being developed and rolled out
  • How is the energy industry and utilities in these midwestern states engaging with cannabis customer?
  • Illinois Energy Code update: lighting efficiency requirements specific to marijuana cultivators

Molly Graham, Programs Director, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA)  

Patrick Walters, Energy Specialist – Environmental Services, Lansing Board of Water & Light

Lauren Gaikowski, Agriculture Energy Advisor, ComEd Energy Efficiency Program

4:30 – 5:15 p.m. :: Utility Case Study: Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) 

  • Managing 150+ cannabis business entities in SMUD’s territory
    • Helping customers navigate energy landscape to save time, energy and money
    • Ensuring cannabis customers’ electricity needs and managing electrical service upgrades
  • Engaging & collaborating with cannabis cultivation customers – indoor growing operations
    • Incentives that encourage investment in energy efficiency
    • Efficiency options for lighting, HVAC, & additional load
    • What the industry looks like on the grid
    • Perspectives on efficiencies
  • SMUD R&D test results – energy efficient practices for indoor cultivation
    • LED vs. HPS lighting – impact on quality and quantity of cannabis product
    • Financial cost savings to customer
    • Is technology viable for application?

Matt McGregor, Strategic Account Advisor – Cannabis Operations, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)

Thursday, January 28, 2021 : Central Time

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. :: Log In and Welcome

9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: Conference Timing

9:00 – 9:40 a.m. :: Design Lights Consortium’s Horticultural Lighting Specification:  Implications & Moving Forward

Design Lights Consortium (DLC) is a non-profit whose mission is to drive efficiency in the commercial lighting sector.  In September 2018, the DLC will release their new policy and technical requirements for a Horticultural Lighting Specification.   This session will discuss their Specification, process and implications, addressing:

  • The need for a well-designed horticultural lighting product
    • Saving energy
    • Optimizing plant growth and health
    • Enabling utility program design and product testing
  • History and process for designing the specification
  • Overview of specification & results to date
  • Qualifying high performance horticultural lighting products through the DLC specification
    • Test procedures
    • Alignment on performance needs
    • Industry best practices
  • Addressing areas of technical uncertainty and issues with measuring below visible light
  • Implications for utilities – better management of increasing energy demand from horticultural facilities through incentive programs for efficient and effective horticultural lighting products

Kasey Holland, Technical Manager, Design Lights Consortium (DLC) 

9:40 – 10:20 a.m. :: Boulder County Cannabis Cultivator Energy Efficiency Assessment

This session will discuss a recently published study that conducted energy assessments of cultivation facilities in Boulder County to assess the current energy use, productivity, and energy efficiency opportunities at these facilities.  The study will present key findings from the analysis of electric interval data for 14 different facilities, evaluating:

  • Complete electric, heating fuel (natural gas and/or propane), and production data for 9/14 facilities
  • Analysis of average annual peak electrical demand for combined facility production
  • Comparison of performance of indoor and greenhouse cultivation facilities with Resource Innovation Institute (RII) PowerScore
    • Data on horticultural lighting and HVAC energy requirements
  • Findings on Boulder County facility productivity compared to national data
  • Identification of cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities at each facility site
  • Timelines for paybacks after applying incentive estimates based on different technologies
  • Overall key findings and recommendations for Boulder County grow facilities that consider:
    • Energy intensity
    • Productivity
    • Emissions
    • Lighting & HVAC

Nick Collins, Associate Director, Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS)

Jesse Remillard, Senior Engineer, Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS)

10:20 – 10:30 a.m. :: Morning Break

10:30 – 11:15 a.m. :: Microgrid Applications for Powering Cannabis Grow-Ops

  • Distributed generation applications and solutions for cannabis cultivation facilities
    • The utility business case for distributed generation as a solution to cannabis energy management
      • Saving money and reducing emissions
    • Clean technology applications
    • Evaluating the right mix of technologies
  • Microgrid case studies for cannabis grow operations
  • Microgrid technology applications
    • Status of microgrid technology in the United States
    • Understanding the value proposition: grid resiliency, economics and emissions

Gene Okun, President, Microgrid Energy

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. :: The Path Forward to Achieving Cannabis Energy Savings – Debating the Role of Facility Design, Codes & Standards, and Enabling Optimal Utility Incentive Programs

  • What is best way to achieve energy savings –evaluating the opportunities and challenges:
    • Energy codes and equipment standards
    • Education and training
    • Market transformation strategies
  • Facility design: best practices, what’s been tested, & integrating new technologies
    • New technologies and best strategies to improve resource efficiency in cannabis cultivation & production facilities
  • Collaborating to achieve optimal rebates for energy savings – the role of the grower, utility and manufacturer
  • Liquid cool LED technology – a promising new technology for efficient marijuana cultivation

Corinne Wilder, Vice President – Global Commercial Operations, Fluence Engineering

Gretchen Schimelphenig, Technical Director, Resource Innovation Institute (RII)

Thao Chau, Electrical Engineer- Building Standards Office of the Efficiency Division, California Energy Commission (CEC)

Francis Boucher, Energy Efficiency Program Manager, National Grid


Designing and Implementing Utility Energy Efficiency Incentive Programs for Cannabis Growers

Thursday, January 28, 2021 : Central Time

1:00 – 1:15 p.m. :: Log In and Welcome

1:15 – 4:45 p.m. :: Workshop Timing

*Short breaks will be integrated every hour


Indoor cannabis growing operations consume immense amounts of electrical energy and to date, very little research-based literature has been published to document energy efficiency opportunities for these utility customers.  This workshop will focus on how utilities can best leverage incentive funds to mitigate the electric grid impacts associated with these types of facilities.  A primary goal will be understanding the equipment required for growing operations (lighting, de-humidification, and air-conditioning equipment) and providing insight on how these operations can accomplish their production more efficiently.  A major discussion point will be on how to effectively translate these efficiency opportunities into efficiency incentive programs, and the best outreach approaches for these customers, as well as the future direction of the cannabis industry.

Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate opportunities for improving the overall energy efficiency of indoor cannabis grow operations
  • Review data analytic techniques to quantify cannabis production energy consumption
  • Assess best practices in the design and implementation of utility incentive programs for commercial cannabis producing customers



  1. Understanding the engineering behind the cannabis production process
  2. Overview of energy-intensive equipment in indoor cannabis production facilities
    • Lighting
    • De-humidification
    • Air conditioning equipment
  3. Energy efficiency opportunities in indoor cannabis production facilities
    • Designing the facility
    • Implementing efficiency measures post initial design
  4. Common barriers to adoption of energy efficiency measures
    • Expedition of facility set up often resulting in poor lighting and HVAC choices
    • High up-front costs
    • Lack of energy usage data
  5. Technologies and data analytics for improving energy efficiency in cannabis growing facilities
    • Quantifying and offsetting cannabis energy consumption
    • Metering efforts to fill data gaps
    • Analyzing known data into useful applications
  6. Designing and implementing optimal incentive programs for cannabis
    • Review of utility programs in usage and their effectiveness
    • Customizing programs for specific customer needs
    • Effectively designing products and programs with pricing and technology
    • Motivating customer participation

Workshop Instructors

Jesse Remillard, Senior Engineer, Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS)

Jesse Remillard, is a Senior Engineer at Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS), focusing on the value verification of mechanical equipment upgrades for commercial and industrial facilities. He regularly performs engineering analysis for custom technologies, process improvements, HVAC, refrigeration, variable frequency drives, and lighting for new construction and retrofit efficiency projects. His specialties include establishing baselines for custom technologies, investigating energy efficiency program measure costs, and reviewing power generation and energy storage technologies. Mr. Remillard earned an MS in mechanical and aeronautical engineering from the University of California, Davis, and a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Maine.

Nick Collins, Senior Engineer, Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS)

Nick Collins, is a Senior Engineer for Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS) whose areas of expertise include the monitoring and verification of energy efficiency projects, as well as the analysis of energy efficiency and demand-limiting measures in commercial and industrial facilities. He is proficient in project and construction management, with an emphasis on sustainable design, high-performance buildings, and building methods in commercial and residential construction. Prior to joining ERS, Mr. Collins worked in construction management on a diverse array of commercial and institutional projects including Gillette Stadium, Terminal A at Logan Airport, and the Walker Art Building restoration and renovation at Bowdoin College.


  • Francis Boucher, Energy Efficiency Program Manager, National Grid

  • Thao Chau, Electrical Engineer- Building Standards Office of the Efficiency Division, California Energy Commission (CEC)

  • Nick Collins, Associate Director, Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS)

  • Lauren Gaikowski, Agriculture Energy Advisor, ComEd Energy Efficiency Program

  • Molly Graham, Programs Director, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA)  

  • Kasey Holland, Technical Manager, Design Lights Consortium (DLC) 

  • Matt McGregor, Strategic Account Advisor – Cannabis Operations, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)

  • John Morris, Vice President – Market Development, D+R International

  • Gene Okun, President, Microgrid Energy

  • Jacob Policzer, President, Cannabis Conservancy

  • Jesse Remillard, Senior Engineer, Energy & Resource Solutions (ERS)

  • Gretchen Schimelpfenig, Technical Director, Resource Innovation Institute (RII)

  • Patrick Walters, Energy Specialist – Environmental Services, Lansing Board of Water & Light

  • Corinne Wilder, Vice President – Global Commercial Operations, Fluence Engineering

Online Delivery

We will be using Microsoft Teams to facilitate your participation in the upcoming event. You do not need to have an existing Teams account in order to participate in the broadcast – the course will play in your browser and you will have the option of using a microphone to speak with the room and ask questions, or type any questions in via the chat window and our on-site representative will relay your question to the instructor.

  • You will receive a meeting invitation will include a link to join the meeting.
  • Separate meeting invitations will be sent for the morning and afternoon sessions of the course.
    • You will need to join the appropriate meeting at the appropriate time.
  • If you are using a microphone, please ensure that it is muted until such time as you need to ask a question.
  • The remote meeting connection will be open approximately 30 minutes before the start of the course. We encourage you to connect as early as possible in case you experience any unforeseen problems.


Please Note: This event is being conducted entirely online. All attendees will connect and attend from their computer, one connection per purchase. For details please see our FAQ

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all registrants for three business days after the event

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