Jan 292012
 January 29, 2012

electricity marijuanaDo Power Companies Call Law Enforcement If A House Uses A Lot Of Electricity?

One of the biggest urban legends in the marijuana world is that if your electricity bill is too high the power company will tell the cops and they will raid your marijuana garden. As long as I have been involved in the marijuana industry, this theory has been assumed by almost everyone that I know. But is it true? And if so, how much electricity is ‘too much’ before you come up on the radar?

Let me start by saying that there is no ‘smoking gun’ that I have ever heard of that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that power companies do this as a set policy. It would be nice if power companies would post something on their website that specifically confirms or denies a policy, and exactly how much electricity is the difference between normal and suspicious. However, I’ve never heard of or read anything from a power company putting something like that out there for the public to see.

So what we are left with is personal experiences and what the news tells us. I will give an example of what I have experienced being a marijuana grower in Oregon, and hopefully other people from around the country will put comments below giving their experience. The more people we can get sharing this information, the better an idea we get of what the power companies policies are. The highest electricity bill that I ever got was over $700. The house had gas as well, so the $700 wasn’t even for all the power in the house. The house was a four bedroom, 2.5 bath in a nicer neighborhood. The bill was consistently $650-750 for about a year and a half before I dismantled the garden. Not one time did the power company or cops ever inquire about our garden, not once. In my area, a normal power bill is more like $150-200, so I know my $700+ bills were definitely out of the ordinary.

My garden was 100% legal according to Oregon law. There is a limit on the number of plants a medical marijuana grower can have in Oregon, but there is no limit on the amount of light you dedicate to those plants. As a result, we gave each plant more light than it could ever want, which of course explains why our bill was so high. I was very curious to see if it resulted in a visit from the cops, since I didn’t really have anything to lose being completely legal. But they never came. I’m not saying that if your bill is $700 or under you are in the clear, because maybe it’s different in different jurisdictions. However, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, that was my experience, so take it for what you will.

Once upon a time I used to smoke with a guy who’s brother worked for the electricity company in my area (Portland General Electric). He swore up and down that the electricity company had a deal with all of its employees that if they tipped off law enforcement to a marijuana grow house, they would receive a $500 bonus. It’s just a word of mouth thing, but I figured it was worth mentioning. Is there any readers out there that used to, or currently do, work for a power company? If so, please share your knowledge so that others can benefit.

I read an article in the Post and Courier that talked about this exact topic. As I stated earlier in the article, news stories are about the best source to know more about the topic of electrical usage and law enforcement. Apparently, a former cop found out the hard way how the process works when cops raided his illegal marijuana garden. Here is what the article had to say:

cop evil“Court papers recently filed in the case revealed that investigators were tipped off by the tenant’s utility company. Edisto Electric workers called police after noticing unusually high electricity use on the property and numerous instances of tripping circuits, authorities said.”

One thing that I found interesting was how the article kept giving the impression that this is rare, and that it doesn’t rally occur, but then at the same time all the power companies refused to comment. Just read how suspicious the next line is, “Area police and utility company officials say such incidents are relatively rare, and some power companies insist they wouldn’t turn in customers simply because their bills are high.”

So the facts are people are being turned in for high electricity usage, which is proven by court documents. All the while power companies and cops won’t admit what they are doing, and trying to play it off like, ‘don’t worry, we would never do that.’ To me, this is just a tactic to get people to get complacent so that the power companies and cops can bust easy targets. With ‘smart’ meters being installed all over the nation, it will only get easier and easier.

Another excerpt from the article that might shed more light on the subject, “Narcotics Detective Shaun Tumbleston testified in a hearing on the case last week that Edisto Electric was concerned in late 2009 because its workers kept having to go to Stable Lane to reset a transformer after the circuits overloaded. They couldn’t figure out why a rural property with no residence was racking up electric bills of $800 a month, he said.”

“People don’t have an expectation to privacy in every area of their lives,” said Charleston criminal defense lawyer Michael O’Connell. “And I don’t think you have a privacy as to what your electricity bill is.”

I have always wondered why the power companies would want to throw their best clients under the bus. Like I said, I was paying over $700 a month, which is a hefty sum. One would think that the power companies would want all customers to pay that much! Another line from the article had a fact that I found significant, “Indoor growers are estimated to consume about 1 percent of the nation’s electricity, enough to power some 2 million homes, according to a study released last year by Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.”

 

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  9 Responses to “Do Utilities Tell Cops About Marijuana Gardens With High Electricity Bills?”

  1.  

    As long as you’re not stealing power, and you pay your bill, there should be no problem. The only people I know that got busted because of electricity, were idiots who tried bypassing the meter. Money talks. When you pay a high bill every month, they just want the money baby.

  2.  

    Its time to switch to LED lighting. Save you a lot of money and new studies show greater yields now to and not so much heat created. PS HELP US HERE IN IRELAND TOO! Every politician here afraid to do anything even talk about it.

  3.  

    Holy smokes Batman! $700 a month? For the number of plants you were allowed, please tell me you were using some version of SOG? Did you ever calculate your KW/H yield? Did you worry about using a carbon scrubber for odor control?

  4.  

    Just because he wasn’t busted does not mean he was not reported.

    Obviously, the writer’s $700/mo in a 3.5 bedroom house (how many baths, by the way? hot tub, jacuzzi, heated pool?) teeming with unplanned parenthood is within parameters for the similarly situated. Otherwise, he would be writing a different tale.

    The utility has sophisticated measuring methods that detail patterns of usage way beyond the mere total. In the aftermath of the well-deserved 9/11 incident in NY all US utilities — not only phone co. — began to collect and analyze energy consumption data in the search for “terrorists,” meth & acid cookers, and your pot farmer.

  5.  

    in the uk ive heard of people getting letters from the electricity company asking if they knew there consumption has doubled or trebled and would they like someone to come and check there meter for them , so whether they actually know what your doing or not , huge increases from what is considered normal usage will prompt some kind of alert even if thats only an automated letter .

  6.  

    Grew up in n.y. many articals I read relating to drug raids credited the power company for information wich started the investigation. Drug cases take time to build as information is foud more intrusive warrants are obtained ex. Phoe taps lead to tapping home to 24 hour survalace. Investigations sometime take a year or more when they arrest every one u dealt with illegaly. Informants is what they want. In hawaii first month after started growing power company creepin around house than knocked on door asking why such an increase in service. So I pointed to air coditioners in window.. He said he would note it in system so no more inquiries would be made. Lets just say it sucks not being able to use the ac’s any more. Be smart big brother is watching. Never text message

  7.  

    re pega este cannabis :D

  8.  

    Lol my bill just came in and its over 2000…. Sad

  9.  

    My house got swarmed by fully decked out cops when I was 10-11. The sudden increase in the electric bill when dad set up his room is the only reason we can think of as to how they found out. Dad grew a lot but sold and told none.

    That experience scar’d me for life. I never keep anything running if it’s not necessary because I’m afraid they’ll think I’m growing and bust down my door. Irrational.
    I’d gladly pick Freddy Krueger over a cop any day. No doubt.

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