TELLER COUNTY, Colo. - With County Sheriff's offices in Colorado stepping up searches for homes growing marijuana illegally, Teller County says they have hit a roadblock with a local utility company.
One thing all illegal marijuana cultivators have in common is high power usage for lighting and heating. Commander Greg Couch with TCSO says he has seen electricity bills for grow houses as high as $10,000 a month in the county. He has tried reaching out to Intermountain Rural Electric Association for locations of those houses using an abnormal amount of electricity, but each time they have not complied. Couch says, "They have told us they will not provide us this information without a warrant."
Couch says they are just trying to nail down which homes are known for high usage which could lead to the discovery of a grow operation. "What we are trying to do is not trying to take away good paying customers," Couch says, "we're trying to protect their infrastructure and the residents of the county."
An issue with the houses is that the growers rig their homes to take in more power, which can cause house fires and explosions. Couch encourages customers to voice their concerns to the utility company in hopes that they will change their policy. He says it also raises the argument that if a house fire were to happen at one pot growing houses, the utility company could be complicit in the crime.
Jackie Kirby with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office says rural utility companies give that information to its deputies without a warrant.