Bodega Bay in Sonoma County.

YHelfman/Getty Images

Sonoma Power Provider Loses Millions After Cannabis Legalization

Jeffrey Schaub
April 09, 2019 - 7:35 am

Energy provider Sonoma Clean Power has lost $10 million in annual electricity business, a downturn that the company attributes to small cannabis farmers folding or moving their operations to other parts of the state.

The lost revenue was traced to just a few hundred customers who, on average, had monthly electric bills of $10,000, according to company officials. After recreational marijuana became legal in California, the usage for these customers dropped dramatically or their accounts were closed. 

"We saw our electric load drop seven percent and that's a big jump," said Clean Power CEO Geof Syphers. 

Larger marijuana growing firms are forcing mom-and-pop pot growers out of business, said Sonoma County Growers Alliance Chairwoman Alexa Wall. 

The smaller growers cannot afford the permitting fees and local taxes, Wall said. 

“Just in the last month, at least four different farmers have called me to say 'Do you know anyone who might be interested in buying my business?'" she said. "They are reaching the end of their financial rope."

Related: Examining The First Year of Legal Recreational Marijuana in California