2021 CEO letter

I asked a lot of SMUD employees in my first full year as CEO and general manager, and they delivered. I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished together in 2021.

""With a landmark carbon reduction plan, a more equitable solar and storage rate and an organizational realignment that ingrains diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do, 2021 was a transformational year at SMUD.

We launched a “virtual solar” program for disadvantaged customers living in multifamily housing. We secured $41 million in government financial assistance to support customers most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We acquired our first utility-scale battery storage units and added 160 megawatts of carbon-free power at our Rancho Seco solar facility.

All the while, we stayed laser-focused on our primary objective - providing affordable and reliable power to the Sacramento region.

This commitment helped SMUD avoid rolling blackouts and power shutoffs when summer wildfires in the Pacific Northwest squeezed energy markets. We ended the year with an average system rate of approximately 37 percent below that of PG&E, the difference resulting in $869 million that stays in our local community.

The most transformational action came in April when the SMUD Board unanimously approved our 2030 Zero Carbon Plan. The most ambitious decarbonization effort of any large U.S. utility puts SMUD on the fast track to show the world that eliminating all carbon emissions by 2030 is achievable.

I had the honor of testifying before Congress in April about SMUD’s Zero Carbon Plan. I talked about how our plan moves beyond just carbon reduction by improving local air quality, creating thousands of jobs in the clean energy sector, and providing health and economic benefits to all of our customers, including those living in historically underserved communities.

The realignment that took place earlier in the year focused on preparing us to deliver the goals of the 2030 Zero Carbon Plan while making sure that diversity, equity and inclusion are entrenched throughout SMUD’s operations. This included hiring our first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in November.

The financial statements in this report show an organization on strong fiscal footing. SMUD’s credit ratings and fixed charge coverage all exceed the Board’s goals, and we continued to make progress toward reducing the unfunded pension liability.

Beyond the financial figures, our employees  are deeply committed to SMUD’s mission of making this a better place to live. The SMUD Cares employee giving campaign donated more than $380,000 to local non-profits in 2021 despite the limitations of the ongoing pandemic.

SMUD marked its 75th anniversary on Dec. 31, 2021. It’s hard to believe I’ve worked at SMUD for more than half of its existence. I was an electrical engineering student at Sacramento State when I accepted a SMUD internship in 1982, and I’ve been here ever since.  Time really does fly when you work for an organization you love.

With 40 years under my belt, I’m more excited and optimistic than ever about the impact SMUD and its community partners can make on the Sacramento region.


Paul Lau
CEO & General Manager