Marijuana Growers Steal Electricity, Smart Meters, & Jay Hancock Pisses Off Rambo

Rambo January 13, 2012 4
Marijuana Growers Steal Electricity, Smart Meters, & Jay Hancock Pisses Off Rambo

There seems to be some concern brewing in Internet Land about the recent roll out of Electrical Smart Meters. Besides the expected Orwellian, medical and environmental concerns, it seems indoor marijuana growers may also have reason for concern, or at least that is what some would have you believe.

I recently came across an article by Baltimore Sun reporter Jay Hancock entitled “Smart Meters Could Bust Marijuana Nurseries”. While nothing was particularly noteworthy about the article, Jay did manage to piss me off. He basically makes the claim that all indoor marijuana growers are pirates and thieves who steal electricity.

In Jay’s own words.

“It’s not that pot growers are using metered kilowatts to grow their weed. Rather, they’re pirating electricity by tapping the lines and routing it, unmetered, to their nurseries. Apparently it’s difficult for the utility to detect unless they see the illegal lines because they have so little information about what’s going on on the grid. Smart meters measure in real time how much energy goes into a network and how much is used at the other end by paying customers. Any difference, apart from normal resistance and line loss, is theft.”

I’m not sure how many “marijuana nurseries” they have in Baltimore, Jay, but I’m sure you’re well qualified to write on the subject being as your area of expertise is economics. I wonder how it is, that I’ve managed to grow marijuana for nearly two decades and have never stolen a single watt of power from the utility companies. In fact, I know hundreds of other marijuana growers and I can honestly say, I’ve never met anyone who steals their power. I’m not going to make the claim that marijuana growers do not steal electricity. It’s not difficult to steal. You don’t need to be Nikola Tesla, it only requires a set of jumper cables or balls big enough to wire 240 volts hot.

So where are all these dope growing electrical thieves hiding out? According to the article this is a big problem in B.C. where “illegal electricity use by pot growers adds three percent to BC Hydro customers’ bills”. By stopping the “nurseries” in “barns and attics and basements” BC Hydro plans to pay for their smart meters in under a decade.

While reading up on the subject I found plenty of articles speculating on the affects of smart meters on growing marijuana. Some articles are as bold as to say that smart meters can detect what kind of appliances you are using. Other suggest that grow lights will be detectable from the utility companies control center.

Here is the bottom line. If you are stealing power you’re a thief and the utility companies have every right to try to track you down and stop you. Smart meters will make this easier for utility companies. On the other hand, if you are buying metered electricity from a utility company and paying your bills on time, they shouldn’t and generally don’t hassle you. Smart meters probably will not make any difference to growers who pay for the electricity that they use.  If your use is suspicious, they can report accounts to law enforcement, but a large utility bill is not enough for a judge to issue a warrant.  It could be a contributing factor to opening an investigation, but if you have your bases covered, they won’t get into your house.

I frequently see questions in the forums about how big an electric bill can get before you risk being reported. Granted, these questions are usually from first time growers wanting to run a 400 watt light in a closet. In truth, I have been curious myself. I’ve had my residential power bill up to about $2200 a month without any problems. Lets see who can set the record. Share with us your highest grow room electric bill in the comments. Commercial rate bills are disqualified. I know someone out there is going big.

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  1. HerbToker January 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm -

    In the Netherlands there are plenty of indoor growers who steal the electricity but these are the criminal organizations who are growing and do it because for stealth since unusually high bills are reported to authorities and since they are breaking the law anyway they might as well steal the power because if they do get busted they will be in more trouble for the plants they are growing then the electricity they are stealing.
    The grower who has a few plants for his own use won’t steal the power because their bills won’t look suspicious enough.

    • Rambo January 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm -

      Good point. If you are going to go big and don’t want to steal, a commercial property is the way to go. A high electric bill isn’t suspicious at all coming from an industrial building. Warehouse space is cheaper per square foot and easier to set up. You probably won’t have as many nosy neighbors and the electric bill should be cheaper at commercial rates than it is or residences. To some a criminal is a criminal and if you break one law you might as well break them all. I am a firm believer in breaking as few laws as possible.

  2. Chuck July 8, 2013 at 7:28 am -

    I hit $800 a month. But it’s summer. Should be a bit cheaper this winter.

  3. Greenie Beanie October 26, 2013 at 3:22 am -

    Those smart meters could very easily be designed to detect what kind of appliances -relatively- you might be using. This is because electricity has this bond with magnetic fields that reacts differently in different devices. Things like motors and ballasts use a lot of inductive power, as opposed to the usual household energy hogs which are purely resistive loads (water heater, range, baseboards, incandescent lights). Worried? I suggest electronic ballasts or LEDs, as they mimic the kind of power consumption as..yeah every other freaking thing in your house. Also, keep two flower cycles on opposite schedules to mask the 12/12. For the record, I’ve seen a 30 kW op running steady! The electric company really doesn’t care what you do with their product as long as you’re not stealing it!