Solar energy has turned into an off-grid power source for illegal growing of marijuana. Despite the expensive solar panels, increasing number of growers invest in them to avoid being detected by law enforcement officials.
Robert McDonald, a Lt. from New Mexico State Police points out that this increase in the use of solar energy is due to the more strict control and laws that prevent Mexican cartels to import their illegal product in the US. He is certain that this “green” approach makes it much more difficult for the authorities.
Not long ago, the New Mexico state police found a massive facility in an isolated area of Rio Arriva County that had 250 marijuana plants watered through using solar powered water pumps.
In 2010, during a similar operation in the same state, the police confiscated more than 1,500 plants grown using solar power driven technology.
In California wine country there is an increased number of reported stolen solar panels, as a result of this switch. The state authorities increased the pressure against such thefts, especially because they are convinced that these are linked to criminal ring that have deals with marijuana growers.
Michael Honing, the president of Honig Vineyard and Winery in Rutherford, California stated that around 10 wineries were attacked. Out of 819 installed panels, around 40 have already been stolen. Considering that one panel costs around 17,000 dollars, this has been a particularly difficult case.
The New York Times released figures last year, indicating that around $5 billion is spent on indoor marijuana growing annually to cover electricity costs. This adds to 1% of the national power consumption. This ‘crop’ is also found to be the one that brings the highest revenue of $40 billion annual production value.