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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Avista extends energy efficiency incentives to indoor growers

Cannabis growers looking to save money can start by looking at their lighting. That’s the message Avista wants to share with Washington producers/processors. The utility’s Energy Efficiency team can offer everything from general advice to information about incentives and rebates for businesses that install new lighting or upgrade their current infrastructure. Tom Lienhard, Avista’s chief energy efficiency engineer, said Avista has already helped at least 10 indoor grows in Washington reduce their energy costs. Most legal indoor growers started out using high-intensity discharge lighting, which were standard in the industry five years ago. These provided brightness and also encouraged growth at different points of the photosynthesis cycle. Now, Avista is seeing growers try other options, including higher-efficiency LEDs. Andy Paul from Avista was the guest speaker at a monthly 502 meet-up in Spokane. He said Avista likes to talk to growers about their options, especially before they install expensive upgrades. Experienced growers may already know the botany of cannabis plants but not all of specifics on which light spectrums can work best, and all the ways they can save money by using less energy through the growth cycle. Or in some cases, they know what they need but don’t know about Avista’s options. “We can offer them alternatives,” Lienhard said. “But it may be too costly to be changing the lighting during various stages of growth.” While lighting is a main source of energy, indoor growers also need to include irrigation, air moisture control, ventilation, air conditioning and heating. Avista can also discuss customized energy efficiency options in these areas, depending on an owner’s site plans. Incentives are based on how many kilowatt hours were used annually under the current set-up vs. how many will be saved with the upgrades. For example one high-intensity discharge lamp will use around 1,000 watts but a LED might use 300 to 600 watts. Growers also may upgrade to newer versions of HIDs that are more efficient. Cannabis growers moving to different buildings should also consult with Avista early on. The location could be considered “new construction” if it has been remodeled for more than 50 percent of its square footage, or if the building’s use changes, say from a retail operation to a growing operation. Lienhard said these incentives actually are availalbe to all customers, whether agricultural, industrial or other industries, and have been around since 1986. “We have a responsibility to serve every customer,” he said.
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