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Fewer high energy users could mean less illegal indoor marijuana grows in Arcata

ARCATA- Arcata has received the first taxes collected from the city's high energy use tax that was passed by voters in 2012. The amount of electricity users using three times the amount of energy than an average household has decreased.

An estimated 93 of 9,500 PG&E customers are using high amounts of energy that qualify for the tax, compared to the 633 electricity users using excessive energy in 2011. The city collected $50,159 for the October billing cycle. The tax charges users 45 percent for household customers using 600 percent over the baseline amount.

"It shows that these very heavy users are either shutting down or moving out of houses or apartments in Arcata," said Vice Mayor, Michael Winkler.

The tax is designed to curb the amount of electricity usage in the city and reduce the amount of illegal indoor marijuana grows. Winkler said only a few home businesses have been taxed, but said most are illegal indoor marijuana grows. "I think the vast majority of them are large scale marijuana grow houses that are using lots of very high energy and lights," said Winkler.

Winkler said he was not expecting to see such a decrease. "This is happening even quicker than we expected," said Winkler.

The city expected to receive one million dollars from the tax. Winkler said the city will not receive what the council expected, but said the goal was not to collect revenue. "Our goal was never going to be revenue, our goal was to reduce our very high energy use," said Winkler.

Both the City of Eureka and the County's Board of Supervisors are looking to pass similar measures.