It's often said that electric vehicles are the key to bringing back load growth for utilities in the U.S.

But maybe there’s another way: Marijuana.

After the November election, seven states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana for recreational use. In the early states that legalized, energy use is already growing.

In Washington state and Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized for years, utilities are seeing a spike in electricity consumption. In Denver, for example, cannabis growers account for 2 percent of electricity use. In Washington state, grow operations could suck up more electricity than electric cars over the coming decades.

This may pose challenges to utilities, which are seeing increased outages and may have trouble addressing cannabis cultivation head-on because of the conflict between state and federal laws. It also presents an opportunity for serving a new class of customers.

This week’s podcast guest has been watching all of this play out. We're talking with Tim Hade, the co-founder of Scale Energy Solutions, about the energy impact of marijuana legalization. He'll also talk about the financial opportunity -- and risks -- in managing that energy use.

In the second half of the show, we’re going to discuss the legal, cultural and environmental motivations behind the Dakota Access pipeline protests that are rocking North Dakota.

We’ll end with a quick discussion about what comes next for Tesla now that it has acquired SolarCity.

This podcast is sponsored by Mission Solar Energy, a producer of American-made solar cells and modules.