energy saving

Colorado Launches Cannabis Resource Optimization Program to Improve Energy Efficient Cultivation 

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) announced  Thursday that it will open its first-ever round of applications for its new Cannabis  Resource Optimization Program (CROP) on Feb. 15, 2023. Colorado is leading the  charge on sustainability in the cannabis industry with this first-in-the-nation energy  management program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy costs for  businesses in the cannabis industry.  

Colorado Launches Cannabis Resource Optimization Program to Improve Energy Efficient Cultivation 
Courtesy of Colorado Energy Office

Cannabis cultivation is a resource-intensive industry that accounts for an estimated 2%  of the total electricity used in Colorado, according to the 2018 Energy Use in the Colorado Cannabis Industry report. Additionally, energy costs make up nearly one-third  of cannabis cultivators’ operating budgets.

To address this energy burden, the CROP  program, which is funded by the 2022 “Air Quality Improvement Investments” bill, will  provide free technical assistance and access to financing for cannabis cultivators in  Colorado. The development of the CROP program comes after the successful Colorado  Cultivators Energy Management Pilot Program.  

"Colorado was the first state to legalize cannabis and now will be the first state to  help licensed cultivation operators make their operation more energy efficient,”  said Governor Polis. “Providing innovative ways for cannabis cultivation operators  to improve energy efficiency will save business owners money and reduce energy  use in the industry.” 

The Colorado Energy Office has contracted Resource Innovations to provide technical  assistance for this program. This includes a facility audit and analysis of historic  electricity, gas, water and other resource usage to identify impactful efficiency  improvements, such as installing LED fixtures or upgrading HVAC systems. Cannabis  cultivation business owners will then work with the Colorado Clean Energy Fund to  secure low-interest financing to implement these improvements.

Due to a lack of federal laws regulating cannabis production and distribution, banks  have been reluctant to provide affordable financing options for cannabis businesses —  even in states where its use and sale are legal. Without access to low-interest financing  options, cultivators are unable to invest in efficiency improvements that could not only  save them and their customers money, but could also help reduce emissions from the  cannabis sector as a whole. 

“Cannabis is a legitimate business in Colorado and 20 other states across the  country, yet cannabis businesses are completely shut-out of the financing  opportunities that are available in other industries,” said CEO Sustainable Cannabis  Program Manager Elizabeth Lee.

“The state recognizes that cannabis cultivation uses  a substantial amount of energy and created the CROP program to provide  unprecedented access to low-interest loans for improvements that ease this  financial burden on Colorado businesses.” 

Cannabis cultivation business owners in Colorado will find the program application on  the CROP webpage starting Feb. 15. This first round of applications will be open  to cultivators who are seeking technical assistance and do not already have access to  assistance through their utility providers. Technical assistance and rebates for energy efficiency improvements are currently available to customers of Xcel Energy, Black  Hills Energy, and Platte River Power Authority.  An application for financing only  will be available to all cannabis cultivation businesses in Colorado later in the year.  

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