PG&E Cracking Down on Some Growers' Abuse of Subsidized Rates
An excellent piece by Thadeus Greenson in the Times Standard reports not only on PG&E cracking down on the way some indoor growers use the CARE ( California Alternate Rates for Energy) program. The program is designed to help low income folk get help paying for their energy use. Some marijuana growers, however, have used the system to subsidize their black market business. According to the article,
… the program is intended to help low-income families keep the lights on but is being widely abused by indoor marijuana growing operations that make large profits and gobble up huge amounts of electricity.
Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said that more than 70 percent of the grow houses searched by his department in the past two years have been utilizing the CARE program.
In one recently prosecuted case, a house on the 700 block of Fickle Hill was found to have received an almost 70 percent discount on its $1,500 electric bill as it used 4,676 kilowatt hours of electricity in December 2010 — an amount roughly 10 times the average monthly consumption of a Humboldt County household.
When officers searched the house in February, they reported finding more than $34,000 in cash, snowboards, mountain bikes and a flat screen television — not items found in the typical low-income household.
…Specifically, Ehlers said PG&E is seeking to mandate that households with monthly usage levels four to six times higher than the average household be required to verify their reported income. In the proposal, these high-usage CARE program customers would also be forced to enroll in PG&E’s Energy Savings Assistance Program, which requires in-home audits to help customers lower their energy usage.
This is an article well worth reading.