Environmental leadership

We are working to create a sustainable future for our community.

We strive to achieve environmental sustainability, stewardship and compliance
We're working hard to improve the quality of life throughout the Sacramento region.
Read our Integrated Resource Plan, which will guide efforts to supply power through environmentally responsible and cost-effective ways.

Investing in clean power

By utilizing more renewable resources, we’re helping to improve local air quality.

By supporting energy efficiency, electrification of buildings and transportation and increasing our clean power sources, we’re helping improve the air quality throughout the Sacramento region.

SMUD’s goals are even more ambitious than those outlined by California’s legislature. Not only do we have strong existing targets, but we have also continually exceeded expectations. 

Looking toward the future, we’re working hard to make sure we’re ready for the evolving ways our customers receive and use electricity. This preparation helps us continue our commitment to our customers and the environment.

 

We strive to have a balanced and sustainable energy mix and are always adding to our green energy sources.

 

Our solar panels will generate enough electricity in 2020 to power over 45,000 homes.

Did you know 35% of our power comes from hydroelectric generation? We maintain 11 dams and 8 powerhouses in the Sierras.

We are in a prime location for wind generation. In 2020, over 100 turbines will take advantage of Delta breezes to power 82,000 homes.

We use organic matter, like cow manure, to create electricity using dairy digesters. One-third of California’s dairy digesters are in SMUD territory.

Since the 1980s we’ve been invested in Geothermal energy. As a constant power source, it’s a valuable piece of our clean energy mix.

Green programs

We provide programs that help build a cleaner, greener tomorrow.

SMUD has been introducing new solar technology and programs to our community for more than 30 years.

Highlights

  • Developed the world’s first commercial-scale solar power plant (PV) in 1984
  • Installed the first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station in the western United States in 1992
  • Partnered with developers to build the first net-zero energy community in midtown Sacramento, featuring rooftop solar and batteries

Solar for your home

Our solar experts want to help you decide if solar is a smart choice for your home. Use our solar system estimator tool and run a free analysis for personalized information.

If you decide to go solar, we can help you understand your financing options, how to find a contractor and even do a final safety inspection on your system.

We also offer educational videos and classes to help you make an informed choice.

Start your solar estimate

Get answers about solar

Solar Shares®

Our SolarShares program launched in 2008 and was the first of its kind in the nation, helping commercial and residential customers receive the direct benefits of solar energy without having to install rooftop solar panels.

We’re helping the State of California and City of Sacramento dramatically decrease their carbon footprint through our Commercial SolarShares program. The program has also allowed the Golden One Center to be one of the greenest arenas in the country.

Community programs

As your community-owned, not-for-profit electric utility, we educate students about electricity through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)-based projects and programs.

Solar Regatta: Students design, build and race their own solar-powered boats. They’re judged for speed, distance, maneuverability and more. Learn about the Solar Regatta.

Solar Car Race: Working together in teams, students compete for not only the fastest car but also the best design, most sustainable and best engineering. Learn about the Solar Car Race.

See all teacher and student resources

Electricity as a transportation fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 70% versus standard gasoline vehicles with SMUD’s clean energy mix. We’re a leader locally, nationally and internationally in electric vehicle (EV) and alternative fuel investment, programs and research. We’ve had an active electric vehicle program for over 30 years.

Highlights

  • There are over 13,000 EVs in our service area, growing by about 300 a month.
  • Through our efforts and partnerships, we’ve brought electric vehicles to underserved communities, electric school buses to local districts, mobile battery charging stations and more.
  • In 2020 we’ll invest $12 million (5 times the amount we invested in 2019) in EV infrastructure and programs.
  • Our sedan fleet vehicles are all-electric or hybrid plug-in electric. We’re moving towards a full, all-electric fleet, including our work and service vehicles.

Drive electric and save

To encourage drivers to consider purchasing an EV, we offer a $599 rebate or a free Level II EV charger for customers who purchase or lease a new electric vehicle. It’s like charging free for two years.

To help customers save even more, we offer an EV charging discount. EV drivers end up paying less than $1 per “gallon” when they charge their EV from home between midnight and 6 AM.

Is an EV right for you?

There’s a lot to consider before you buy or lease an EV. How far and how often do you drive? How much money can you save on gas? What kind of incentives are available? 

We have tools available like our EV Estimator and PlugStar to answer your questions and compare costs to buy and drive an EV versus a gas engine vehicle.

Start your EV estimate

Learn more about EVs

Our green power pricing program, Greenergy, was the first of its kind when it launched in 1997.

While the program has changed throughout the years, it’s still focused on the same goal – giving customers options to get up to 100% of their electricity needs from renewable and carbon-free energy sources like wind, sun and hydro.

SMUD offers two levels of participation in Greenergy.

  • $4 a month will provide you with 50% of your monthly electricity usage met with a mix of renewable and carbon-free resources
  • $8 a month will provide you with 100% of your monthly electricity usage met with a mix of renewable and carbon-free resources

Choose green energy. Together we can make a difference.

Sign up for Greenergy

 

Customers are looking for ways to consume more of the solar electricity they're producing. Battery storage lets customers store excess electricity and use it later.

Bill savings and a positive impact on the environment are some additional benefits of battery storage. We offer 2 incentive programs for customers interested in, or currently using, battery storage.

Learn more about battery storage

If you're considering battery storage, we’re here to help. Use our solar system estimator, which includes a battery storage option, to help determine if installing battery storage is right for you. 

See if you'll save

Since 1990, SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation have planted more than 500,000 shade trees in the Sacramento area. 
 
With our Shade Tree program, customers can choose up to 10 free trees and from over 30 varieties. As the temperatures increase in our region, the need for sustainable urban and community forests also increases. 

Trees not only cool our homes naturally and beautify our neighborhoods, but they provide additional benefits like storing carbon and producing oxygen to clean the air we breathe.  

Get free shade trees

Climate strategy

We support California's climate strategy initiatives

Climate strategy infographic

We're leading the way to a more sustainable energy future by setting and achieving ambitious goals:

  • Today our power mix is among the cleanest in the country, about 50% carbon-free
  • Looking forward, we’re committed to 60% renewables by 2030 (equal to about 80% carbon-free) and achieving our 100% net-zero-carbon goal by 2040
  • We’ll invest heavily over the next 20 years in clean technology and energy choices to help decarbonize Sacramento’s vehicles and buildings
  • We’re dedicated to reducing our energy supply greenhouse gases (GHG) by 70% by 2040 while supporting a 64% reduction in GHG across Sacramento’s economy

Learn more about our commitment

Protecting birds

As part of our commitment to the environment, we also protect our feathered friends.

Get up close and personal with the majestic bald eagle

 

Conservation efforts have helped a former endangered species thrive in the Sacramento area. We’re privileged to get a look into the nesting behavior of these incredible birds at Union Valley Reservoir in the Crystal Basin Recreation Area with our live streaming eagle cam. This pair of eagles has been using the nest at Sunset Peninsula since 2016 and have successfully fledged 4 eaglets since then.

The US Forest Service - Eldorado National Forest helped to install a camera system 185 feet up in a ponderosa pine to capture footage of the amazing bald eagle.

In March, a heavy snow storm forced the eagles to abandon the nest and their recently laid eggs, which were lost to the cold. The adult eagles later returned to the nest and we expect they will stay in this nesting area through August or September.

 

The eagles spend most of their time away from the nest. If you don't see them in the live stream, you can watch archived time lapse video and see our eagle photo gallery

 

  • By law, we can’t move the cameras when the eagles are present. We realize there are other ways to position the cameras and plan to fix the positions for next season. 
  • The cameras are solar powered. Bad weather or cloudy conditions might mean the cameras will power down and streaming isn’t always available. When the sun comes out, the cameras will be powered up and ready to stream.
  • It gets dark at night and viewing may be difficult outside of daylight hours.
  • Eagle behavior is unscripted - the eagles may not always be present.
  • Technology isn’t perfect. If you notice an issue, you can email us and we’ll work to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
  • February/March:  At the beginning of nesting season, the eagles return to their home nest and reinforce its structure with sticks and soft nesting materials. An average nest is 4-5 feet in diameter and 2-4 feet deep. Normally, an eagle lays 1-3 eggs with an incubation period of about 35 days.
  • March:  The eagles initially had one or more eggs in the nest but the eggs were lost in a snowstorm. The eagles are maintaining the nest and could stay in this nesting area for a few months.
  • August/September:  Eagles will leave this nesting area.

We partnered with the US Forest Service, Eldorado National Forest to install a camera system 185 feet up in a large ponderosa pine on Sunset Peninsula at Union Valley Reservoir in the Crystal Basin Recreation Area. Two high definition cameras are now poised to view a pair of bald eagles that utilize the tree to nest each year. Both cameras are also equipped with microphones so the eagles’ sounds can be heard in the existing nest which is about 4 feet in diameter. The camera system is battery-powered and charged with solar panels.

The project is part of our 50-year license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate the Upper American River Project (UARP), SMUD’s hydroelectric system in the Sierra. It includes $150 million in upgrades and enhancements to existing recreation facilities related to SMUD’s hydroelectric power plants throughout the Crystal Basin Recreational Area, mostly around SMUD reservoirs. We are committed to monitoring the nesting status of bald eagles at several of our Crystal Basin Reservoirs annually as part of the UARP license and a larger natural resource monitoring program.

During the breeding season each year, SMUD sends biologists out at least three times to look for and document the birds’ nesting status. While the camera isn’t a requirement of the license monitoring program, using it to monitor the eagles will provide new insights into the local eagles’ behavior and a great opportunity for the public to experience these incredible birds up close and personal. We take our stewardship role very seriously and work closely with multiple agencies to ensure protection of the valuable natural resources that we are privileged to work alongside. 

SMUD and USFS worked to install the equipment in late November and December. SMUD provided the camera equipment and USFS provided experienced tree climbers to install the equipment. It took a team of at least 4 climbers almost 2 days to haul the camera equipment up into the massive 5-foot in diameter tree and install it. The solar panels that power everything are too heavy and bulky, so a SMUD bucket truck was brought in to do the installation of the panels.

Since 1957 SMUD has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to make Crystal Basin a spectacular destination in the Sierra Nevada. It’s not only home to the UARP hydroelectric system, but is also open to the public for enjoyment of outdoor recreation.

Diverse bird populations reside year-round in our service territory. They are at risk of coming in direct contact with electric wires or colliding with power lines when flying. This might cause a disruption to electric service, damage equipment or start a fire.

As part of our long-term relationship with the conservation community and regulatory agencies, we developed an Avian Protection Plan (APP) to reduce bird mortality and outages. It includes:

  • Employee training
  • Providing alternative nest structures
  • Installing perch deterrents
  • Adding insulation on wires
  • Installing markers to make power lines more visible to birds in flight
  • Increasing space between electrical lines

Read more about our plan

Contact us

Please help us – and our feathered friends – by calling SMUD’s Avian Protection hotline at 1-916-732-5657 to report outages caused by birds, or to report birds that are building nests on utility poles or substations.