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Community Oriented Utility

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The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is a customer-owned electric utility that generates and purchases electric power that it distributes to about 500,000 customers in the Sacramento area, including 48,000 small businesses and 8,000 large businesses. SMUD is the sixth largest publicly-owned electric utility in the United States in terms of customers served. Between 2000 and 2010, the total population served by SMUD is expected to grow from about 1.1 to over 1.4 million. 

SMUD is not an investor-owned utility and has no shareholders; all benefits are returned to its customer-owners in the form of lower rates and value to the community. Being a community-oriented municipal utility, SMUD prides itself as a leader in energy efficiency and renewable generation as well as a provider of economical rates and reliable service for customer-owners. SMUD’s mission statement defines how SMUD conducts its business: “SMUD meets the electric and energy service needs of our customers safely, economically and in an environmentally responsible manner, while providing value to the community.”

SMUD’s Public Goods Program includes customer loans for energy efficiency upgrades, appliance rebates, reduced rates to limited-income customers, nationally-recognized solar and wind energy programs, and electric vehicle research and development projects. In 1999, SMUD committed $26 million to its Public Goods Program. This commitment has earned SMUD the recognition as one of the nation’s most innovative and aggressive utilities on energy efficiency and renewable energy by the Natural Resources Defense Council. SMUD’s generation of economical and reliable hydro electricity at its 688 megawatt Upper American River Project (UARP) and SMUD’s municipal status are among the primary reasons that SMUD has been able to provide a significant Public Goods Program while keeping rates reasonable and competitive.

SMUD also offers a program that enables customers to choose renewable power through SMUD’s Greenergy program. In 2000, over 8,000 customers chose to pay a little more each month to ensure that their energy needs were matched with renewable purchases or generation from renewable sources for use on the SMUD system. 

Energy Efficiency 

Since the early 1980s, SMUD energy efficiency programs have provided customer-owners with information, resources, incentives and equipment to increase comfort, reduce energy consumption and save money. Today, SMUD ranks as an international leader in energy efficiency program design and implementation. 

SMUD has helped plant more than 1 million trees through its Shade Tree Program
(use back button to return to smud relicensing)  in cooperation with the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Proper shading can reduce a home’s cooling costs by 40 percent. The National Arbor Day Foundation has recognized SMUD as a national leader for its Shade Tree program. 

In 1999, energy efficiency programs helped customer-owners conserve 27 million kilowatt-hours, enough energy to power 3,000 homes for up to 15 years. As part of its energy saving effort that year, SMUD  provided customers rebates for more than 600 energy efficient washing machines and 2,700 heat pumps and high-efficiency central air conditioners. 

Services to Limited Income and Special Needs Customers 

Two of SMUD’s most important public goods efforts are in support given to customers with limited incomes and residents who are dependent on life-support equipment. 

Qualified low-income customers pay a lower price for electric service. Low-income customers also qualify to receive weatherization and energy efficiency measures for their homes. Customers can also qualify for SMUD’s discounted life-support rate based on a variety of devices and/or medical conditions. 

In 1999, over 21,000 low-income customers received the lower rate and about 4,600 customers qualified for the life-support rate. 

Renewable Generation 

In addition to the UARP, which meets about 25 percent of Sacramento’s electrical demand without producing any undesirable air emissions as a byproduct, SMUD produces electricity with local cogeneration and natural gas turbines and with advanced and renewable technologies such as photovoltaic (solar) power, fuel cells and wind turbines. SMUD has the largest distributed utility solar energy system in the world, with over 550 small solar power plants on rooftops throughout the Sacramento region. Each rooftop system provides enough energy to SMUD’s power grid to service one household for a year.

SMUD is committed to renewable energy resources and technologies through its photovoltaic and distributed technologies program, which develops sources of cleaner energy to reduce the reliance on fossil fuel energy. These programs were introduced in the early 1990s, and since then SMUD has developed partnerships with customers and businesses to design and implement alternative renewable energy programs in the region.

 Research and Development for a Better Energy Future

 SMUD’s research, development and demonstration programs are also on the cutting edge of customer advanced and distributed technologies. Solar-powered street lights, light-emitting diode holiday lights, fuel cells, microturbines and battery dominant hybrid electric vehicle systems are a few of the projects studied and developed in 1999. 

In 1999, an improved, 660- kilowatt wind turbine was installed at SMUD’s Solano County wind farm. The wind farm was built in 1994 as a test project, part of SMUD’s long-term effort to develop more sources of renewable energy. 

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