Cannabis grows — legal or not — are far from business as usual for electric companies

WESTMINSTER — Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, the standard meter read and utility line check aren’t that simple anymore.

Utilities have had to adapt on the fly to a surge of customers that bring with them heavier energy loads and heftier revenues; but they also have had to account for the unexpected, said representatives of Colorado’s electric providers at a Monday conference.

“It’s not all wine and roses,” said Paul Erickson, chief executive officer of Sangre de Cristo Electric Association cooperative.

Illegal grows operate within some of the counties Sangre de Cristo Electric serves in central Colorado — creating unexpected safety hazards such as guns being drawn on employees of the utility, Erickson said. The all-cash transactions from the legitimate enterprises pose security risks as well, he added.

“It puts us in a tough place, and it’s no-win,” he said.

The good, the bad and the ugly of marijuana legalization’s effects on the state’s…

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