How cannabis businesses powered through the blackout

Steve Robles
Mad River Union

ARCATA – As Arcata’s citizenry held emergency barbecues to use food before it spoiled, in the city’s Cannabis Innovation Zone, businesses struggled to keep thousands of dollars of inventory from doing the same.

Most of the companies in that zone offer trimming and extraction services, both of which are time-sensitive, and sometimes tied together.

For instance, once fresh flower has been trimmed, it often is flash-frozen to preserve some of the terpenes which define a flower’s flavor profile and potency.

So businesses that must keep that trimmed flower at a certain temperature to keep it at its market value were very vulnerable to PG&E’s controversial Public Safety Power Shutoff.

One such business, Arcata X, had a short window of time to come up with a strategy that would keep their inventory from becoming unusable.

They managed to procure a generator from a local provider, but even with that challenge met, it was no guarantor of success. Arcata X, like most such firms, runs on a complicated power grid, and keeping such a grid operating isn’t a simple case as plugging in a power cord.

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“We got lucky,” said John, a line worker at Arcata X, pointing to the power generator that saved the company’s inventory. “We managed to figure out the grid and get it all sorted with the generator before we suffered any damage.”

But even with the workaround, some employees were impacted by the PSPS. Some wouldn’t have been able to accomplish their roles without power and had to be asked to stay home.

Another company which spoke on condition of anonymity also said it could only procure power to preserve its inventory, but not enough to keep its workforce at work.

“We got through it, but you have to feel for your employees who really can’t afford to be forced to take a day off,” said one owner. “I really hope PG&E figures out a better solution sooner than later.”



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