PAWNEE COUNTY, Okla. — An uncertain future lies ahead for Oklahoma electric cooperatives.
Rural provides are powering thousands of marijuana grows across the state.
"Ultimately this is a risky endeavor," Indian Electric Cooperative General Manager Todd Schroeder said.
Indian Electric supplies power to 14,000 members across Tulsa, Creek, Osage, Pawnee, Payne, Noble, and Kay counties. Schroeder said they power 150 marijuana grow houses with 20 megawatts of electricity.
"That equates to about two substations worth of load," Schroeder said. "Probably a bulk of the load we just put online in the last four to five months. We're just now catching up with some of the initial requests."
Half of Schroeder's worry is finding ways to generate power to the grow operations without sacrificing output to the other members. His other concern are grow houses continuing to cultivate.
"Some of them are already feeling the pinch from the larger ones that are coming online," he said.
Schroeder said some member grows are already closing up shop leaving service lines to dormant businesses that cannot foot the bill. But Schroeder stares at the larger footprint with a tinge of optimism.
"Maybe this is an opportunity to build our lines out and prepare for what comes in the future if these don’t pan out or stay long term," he said.
Schroeder said the service lines could eventually power electric vehicle charging stations, an investment Indian Electric is exploring. He said he is also concerned with marijuana grows recently busted by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, although, he said none of his member grows has been shut down for illegal activity.
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