US (VT): Electrical ratepayers are providing generous subsidies to indoor cannabis growers

Devin Dannat pushed open a sturdy metal door at his new Clean Cannabis Company building in Hardwick last week and stepped from a dim hallway into a luminous new world. Bright light burst forth from rows of overhead LED fixtures, bathing the 35-year-old budding entrepreneur and his hundreds of young hemp plants in a warm glow.

After a few more weeks of soaking up the intense artificial rays, the verdant plants will flower, yielding the company's first crop of pungent buds grown for its cannabidiol, or CBD, the nonpsychoactive cannabis extract. Dannat and his partner, Derek Porter, expect to soon repeat the process with cannabis strains containing THC, which they plan to sell in the legal adult-use cannabis market, slated to open on October 1st.

The powerful lighting and control system at the heart of the 12,000-square-foot grow operation is one of the most expensive on the market and costs the company nearly $450,000. To help them afford such cutting-edge technology, the men had angel investors of sorts — Vermont electricity ratepayers.

Their fledgling company received $77,000 in rebates from Efficiency Vermont, the Winooski-based energy efficiency utility. Most of that money was an incentive to reward them for choosing one of the most efficient lighting systems around.

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