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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Power Company Urges Marijuana Growers To Seek Help For Electricity Needs

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
The lights and ventilating fans used for indoor marijuana grows require a great deal of electricity.

It takes a lot of electricity to grow marijuana indoors. Lights and ventilating fans are some of the biggest culprits.

Pacific Power, the electricity utility that serves Washington and Oregon, said it's traced a series of outages this year to indoor pot farms. In the past some utilities have cooperated with law enforcement to target homes with suspicious amounts of electricity use.

But Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt said that era is pretty much over.

"It's something someone's entitled to do, able to do,” he said. “It's not an issue with anyone needing to hide anything. And we just want people to be safe."

Pacific Power is now urging aspiring marijuana growers to seek help from electricians and the utility before they ramp up their power use. Gauntt said the utility has billed some customers upwards of $5,000 after their grow-ops overloaded electrical equipment and caused neighborhood outages.