SMUD announces its 2030 Zero Carbon Plan
Most ambitious carbon reduction plan by a large utility in the nation
The SMUD Board of Directors approved the most ambitious carbon reduction plan by any large utility in the nation, in a Board meeting on Wednesday, April 28. This comes after the Board adopted a Climate Emergency Declaration in July 2020 and asked staff to develop a plan to expedite carbon reductions due to the growing threats of climate change.
“The threats to our region are real and unacceptable,” said Board President Nancy Bui-Thompson. “Sacramento consistently ranks as one of the dirtiest air basins in the country and it disproportionately impacts our most disadvantaged residents. Although we have had one of the most aggressive carbon-reduction plans in the nation, we realized we must do more.”
Over the past eight months, staff has worked with customers and a variety of stakeholders to develop a plan that relies on:
- Proven renewable technologies like wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass energy, and customer demand response. The plan triples renewable resources and battery storage and expands customer-owned resources such as rooftop solar and battery storage. Today, these resources help SMUD deliver power that is about 50 percent carbon free.
- Exploring and pursuing new and emerging technologies like biofuels, thermal/battery hybrid, pumped hydroelectric storage, carbon capture and storage, power-to-gas, hydrogen and methane, long-duration batteries and compressed air storage.
- New partnerships and business models to pursue emerging technology such as virtual power plants, vehicle-to-grid projects and more to leverage our customers’ investments in clean energy to offset the need for energy from conventional gas power plants.
- Aggressively support electrifying buildings and vehicles, because these are the two largest carbon emitting sectors in the state.
- Retiring, repurposing or repowering SMUD’s natural gas power plants, including the retirement of McClellan and Campbells gas-fired plants by 2025. The 2030 Zero Carbon Plan includes a road map for retiring or refueling our remaining plants by 2030, and SMUD will complete a robust reliability study to finalize the schedule.
“We’re setting the standard for utility carbon reduction,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Paul Lau. “While we have a long history of being leaders in sustainability, this ambitious goal is inclusive and collaborative to align resources across the region to ensure all communities benefit. We’ll be working with our regional partners to ensure that we fully maximize the potential for carbon reductions in this region and show the world how it can be done.”
The plan provides 90 percent of our power from renewable sources, including up to an additional:
- 1,500 megawatts (MW) new local utility solar
- 700 to 1,100 MW local batteries
- 300 to 500 MW wind
- 100 to 220 MW geothermal
- 100 MW regional solar
Customers will play an important role in the region’s journey to zero carbon. Over the next nine years, forecasts show customers will invest extensively in carbon-free energy resources, including 500 to 750 MW of rooftop solar and 50 to 250 MW of customer-owned battery storage.
SMUD’s plan demonstrates its commitment to finding innovative ways to reach its zero-carbon goal and will do so without impacting reliability or the low rates SMUD customers enjoy. To pay for new technologies and make them available to customers in an equitable manner, SMUD will pursue partnerships, investors and grant funding, while keeping rates below inflation.
“Our customers are at the forefront of everything we do,” said Bui-Thompson. “Our goal of zero carbon will improve the lives of ALL our customers by providing cleaner air, better health outcomes, clean energy jobs and a thriving green economy.”
SMUD has a long history of environmental leadership, helping to pioneer renewable energy programs and standards. In 2018, SMUD successfully reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 1990 levels, the equivalent of removing 377,000 vehicles from the road. SMUD has reduced the carbon intensity of its power mix, which is now about 50 percent carbon free, and also partnered to plant more than 600,000 shade trees throughout the Sacramento region to improve air quality, sequester carbon and reduce customer bills.
SMUD helped grow the local solar market by providing $130 million in customer incentives to install solar on over 15,000 local rooftops.
Furthermore, SMUD has led the way in electric vehicle development and deployment having worked with automakers and technology companies for the past 30 years to help test and optimize EVs and vehicle charging equipment. SMUD’s founding partnership in the California Mobility Center positions the Sacramento region as a clean mobility leader. SMUD’s efforts and partnerships have already brought electric vehicles to underserved communities; electric school buses to local districts; clean public transportation; fast-charging infrastructure; mobile battery charging stations and more.
As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned, not-for-profit electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity to Sacramento County for nearly 75 years. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information, visit smud.org.