To ease the strain on California’s energy grid, the state authorized the Market Access Program as a strategy to reduce peak demand and mitigate rolling blackouts. The program authorized $150 million to incentivize projects that contribute to energy savings during the summers of 2022 and 2023. There are no cost caps and no product restrictions, but the program funds are first come, first serve.
“Growers in California have no time to waste. Once the incentives dry up, that’s it,” said George Mekhtarian, CEO of California Lightworks. “We want to make sure that businesses understand that these funds can be used to upgrade outdated lighting systems, like HPS, to advanced LED lighting systems like our MegaDrive for zero cost.”
California has issued a large number of cannabis cultivation licenses, increasing competitive pressure and driving down cannabis prices. Additionally, the cannabis industry’s carbon problem has raised alarms following a Colorado State University study that showed the industry pollutes more than coal.
“By upgrading to LEDs, growers in California are not only helping prevent rolling blackouts, but they are also improving their bottom line by reducing utility costs, increasing yields and margins. All this while reducing their carbon footprint and minimizing climate impact, it’s a triple win,” added Mekhtarian.
Compared to the grow operations outfitted with traditional high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights, California Lightworks’ MegaDrive increases the yield (both in terms of pounds per square foot and pounds per watt) and quality of the crop. Compared to other LED fixtures, the MegaDrive LED technology reduces fixture costs by up to 30% and installation costs by up to 80%. In addition, these benefits come at a 50% lower operating cost compared to traditional HPS lighting systems.
The MegaDrive spectrum and dimming controls can be integrated with third-party greenhouse environmental control systems or done independently using a unique touch screen and wireless solutions. Every aspect of the yield can thus be dialed in. In addition, the system’s slim linear light design and central power supply reduce shadowing.
“The MegaDrive installations are great because you have no power electronics in the fixtures. The power units that drive and control the lights are installed away from the grow area, even up to 300 feet from the light fixtures,” added Mekhtarian. “The system also simplifies the tuning of light spectrum and intensity, saving energy and increasing yields. The lighting can simulate sunrise and sunset and allows for daylight balancing automatically via a photosensor. With no power electronics in the fixtures, the lights become very robust and ideal for high humidity environments.”