Pot power a pricey concern for Vegas’ medical marijuana industry

Early last year, the broker for a 100,000-square-foot warehouse near Las Vegas called the power company to find out how much juice the building would need.

Longtime NV Energy executive Arnold Lopez went out to meet a group on the site and asked what kind of business they planned.

After some hesitation, they told him: medical marijuana cultivation.

Lopez asked questions and started doing some quick math. And, as he recalled, “All of a sudden I came up with numbers I’d never seen before.”

That single marijuana-growing operation, he estimated, could require 5 megawatts of capacity — enough to power 1,000 homes. That’s about 5 percent of the capacity of an entire substation.

As Nevada’s medical marijuana industry gets off the ground, it’s confronting a problem that has gotten little public attention: Growing the plants indoors takes massive amounts of power and water.

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