Cannabis growers in Washington state welcome LED rebates
April 21, 2017, Bellingham, WA – Since the legalization of cannabis for recreational sales in Washington occurred in 2014, an increasing number of cannabis growers are looking to take advantage of rebates offered for light emitting diode (LED) fixtures.
Rob Van Diest, president at Lightning Electric LLC, in Bellingham, Wash., said about 70 per cent of the state’s power companies offers rebates to the cannabis industry.
“Most of the bigger power companies offer the rebates,” Van Diest said. “My company takes care of the paperwork and some of the design work to make sure that we are getting the best rebates for the growers. Every power company is a little bit different in how it handles the rebates. My company specializes in becoming familiar with all of the different rebates available.
“The amount of the rebates depends on the lighting package installed. We have gotten $1,500 LED fixtures out the door at $150 after rebates. In a lot of cases, if it is a new construction project, and we show the power company the amount of savings that are available, the power company will pay 100 per cent of the incremental cost. The rebate can bring the cost of the LED fixture down to the same price for a 1,000-watt high pressure sodium (HPS) fixture. The 1,000 watt HPS is kind of the standard in the industry. Most power companies rebate money on fixtures that save money compared to 1,000-watt HPS.”
ILLUMITEX LED FIXTURES WELL-SUITED FOR REBATE OFFERS
Van Diest said many of the cannabis projects he has worked on have installed Illumitex LED fixtures. ”The Power Harvest from Illumitex is the fixture that we have been using in many of the cannabis production facility designs. It is a one- by one-foot square fixture that puts out 560 watts.”
Over the last three years Lightning Electric has done about 60 cannabis projects with 40 different growers. The biggest installation project the company has done in an indoor production facility is about 550 LED lights. This resulted in a $450,000 rebate from the power company.
“About 20 of the projects done by Lightning Electric were with the same growers who added new production space,” Van Diest said. “Ninety per cent of the cannabis growers we have worked with are producing in controlled environment indoor facilities with no outside light. Most of those growers are also using a HVAC system. Some use outside air to cool the facilities, but most of them are completely enclosed controlled environment.”
Van Diest said he is also receiving increased interest about LEDs from greenhouse cannabis growers.
“Recently we installed LEDs in three greenhouse operations so the growers could produce year-round,” he said. “Before installing the lights they were only able to produce one to two crops during the summer. Now they are able to grow year-round in the greenhouses, which depending on their production setup can give them anywhere from four to six crops a year.
“The LED lights are also used in the greenhouses on overcast days when the light intensity is low. The lights can be used to keep the plants growing in a vegetative stage when they need more than 18 hours of light per day. The LEDs enable the growers to light the plants for a longer period.”
Van Diest said his company has also done a number of retrofit projects where cannabis growers were using only HPS fixtures. He said one cannabis grower who was using HPS lights had no interest in installing LEDs in his operation. Van Diest offered the grower the opportunity to try some of the Illumitex LED lights for a few months. Van Diest told the grower if he wasn’t satisfied with the performance of the Illumitex LEDs, he would take the lights back. At the end of the trials, the grower’s opinion about LEDs had completely changed. Not only did the grower want to keep the Illumitex lights, but he wanted to install more. The grower’s operation is now equipped with 66 per cent Illumitex LEDs.
COST SAVINGS WITH LEDs
In addition to being able to save money on the LED fixtures through utility company rebate programs, Van Diest said growers can realize considerable savings on energy costs and HVAC systems by installing LEDs.
“When it comes to power savings, the average grower who installs LEDs can cut their power bill in half with some saving as much as 60 per cent,” he said. “For indoor controlled environment growers the power savings for operating a HVAC system can be the same rate as the lights. I have worked with growers who have been able to save over $100,000 on their HVAC system installations because they were able to reduce the amount of HVAC needed to cool the LEDs.”