Solar Powered Pot Farms Sweep The Nation!

The Associated Press has uncovered the dark side of solar power – the lawless, very likely violent and probably going to get your kids hooked on drugs truth behind so-called “clean energy.”

It’s the pot.

solar powered pot farms

image via Wikimedia Commons

Didn’t you see the breathless AP story out of the Albuquerque bureau last week? “Authorities,” the AP intoned, say illegal marijuana farmers are “increasingly using solar power to operate large-scale operations in an attempt to remain off the grid.”

“We’re definitely seeing more and more of it,” New Mexico State Police Lt. Robert McDonald asserted.

Indeed. According to this story, the first inkling of an epidemic of PV-powered pot farms began with the bust of an operation back in 2010. Then there was another one uncovered. In October 2012.

And … uh, actually, that’s it as far as this supposed trend goes, according to the AP: two cases in two years.

OK, sure, that might not sound like much to you, but wait, there is something more: The AP noted that there have also been suspicious goings on in Napa, Calif. There, solar power systems installed at wineries and vineyards are disappearing. Well, not disappearing now, if you want to be precise – this was a few years ago.

But the point is, the thefts were definitely linked to pot growers – the evidence was overwhelming. Or, as Napa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Thompson put it, “It’s hard to say for sure but we think they were going directly to growers.”

So just to sum up, this trend that the AP is warning us of here consists of two cases in New Mexico two years apart, and some solar panel thefts in Napa two years ago that the local sheriff’s department thinks might be related to pot farming.

(But you know Deputy Thompson is a real expert on this stuff – not to mention the AP, which quoted him without apparent scrutiny – because when empathizing with the solar theft victims, he said, “It hurt, especially when it’s $17,000 a panel,” and that’s only about 60 times the actual price of a typical solar panel.)

Of course, the half-assed, two-cases-makes-a-trend nature of this AP story and its lazy sourcing doesn’t mean that solar power isn’t being used to keep the lights on and sprinklers running at pot farms. It makes sense that it would be – particularly for indoor operations. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher found that some $5 billion worth of electricity is used every year to grow pot indoors, the New York Times reported in 2011. That’s 1 percent of the nation’s annual power consumption, which means that indoor pot-growing operations are significant greenhouse-gas emitters. Unless they go solar, of course.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.


  • Reply November 26, 2012


    So they got both a Tax Rebate and a cash crop out of the deal? If it was legal to grow they could simply plant it in the garden next to the munchies they grow.

  • Reply November 26, 2012


    Legalize it and the illegal pot growers will be out of business.

  • Reply November 26, 2012

    John Thomas

    LOL!! First the prohibition profiteers were crying about all the “stolen electricity.” Now they’re trying to find a way to cry about growers using solar power.

    It’s getting really hard to invent bad stuff to say about marijuana. Of course, the stolen electricity problem is not caused by marijuana, but by the counter-productive fraud of marijuana prohibition.

    Thank goodness Colorado and Washington state are leading the country out of the madness! The only thing criminal about marijuana is the monstrously destructive, freedom-strangling fraud of its prohibition.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Sales m

    Solar power is sweeping the nation. iPhoenixx sells solar chargers for mobile phones!

  • Reply November 30, 2012

    Ruth C Cooper, P.Eng

    I had high hopes for this alternative use for solar PV, including its use in support of growers of other green matter, given that the grid-tied citizenry seem to need incentives, favourable ROI figures, and other such measures for them to truly understand and appreciate its potential. Is it illegal to grown plants using solar PV?

    • Reply November 30, 2012

      Pete Danko

      There’s nothing about using PV that’s illegal. It’s the growing of the plants, by whatever means, that can be a problem.

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