SMUD’s Environmental Commitment
Our commitment to the environment is evident every day. It’s a part of our DNA. We are always looking to reduce our impact on the environment, improve regional air quality and conserve resources for future generations. Environmental Leadership is one of the SMUD Board’s core values.
Learn more about our activities in the areas below.
Waste reduction and recycling
For SMUD, landfills are a last resort. In 2010, more than 60% of our solid material waste was sent elsewhere, mostly through recycling. In our utility operations, it means our wooden pallets and cable reels along with scrap transformers (those without PCBs). In our offices, it includes everyday items like paper, cardboard, bottles and cans to electronic waste such as old computers and printers.
Where we can, we choose materials that are better for the environment. We’ve switched to vegetable oil in our transformers, avoiding oil that contains unhealthy PCBs. Other choices include using water-based paints and non-chlorinated cleaners.
SMUD’s own buildings are designed to be energy efficient and reduce their impact on the environment. SMUD’s Customer Service Center, at 65th and S streets in East Sacramento, won the highest award given for energy efficiency and environmental design. The Platinum Award from the Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Design (LEED) was awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council in April 2007.
A new corporate yard is under way at Kiefer Boulevard and Bradshaw Road. The East Campus Operations Center will be a LEED platinum certified/zero-energy facility.
All new SMUD buildings will be LEED certified at least at the silver level.
SMUD is reducing its vehicle emissions through a variety of ways. We are using low carbon fuels, and investing in electric and hybrid vehicles. Currently 18% of SMUD’s 1,200 vehicle fleet consists of hybrid or electric vehicles. We repair and service our vehicles under the Clean Shops program.
SMUD is developing a Sustainable Purchasing program to generate less waste, use more recycled products, support renewable energy, increase energy efficiency, and reduce emissions.
Being good stewards of the environment means we care for the land, air, water, and wildlife in the community we serve. SMUD protects these resources while meeting our customers’ demand for electric service. Below are some of the ways we carry out this responsibility.
Keeping birds out of SMUD’s electrical equipment and preventing the outages that sometimes result is an ongoing effort. Please help us – and our feathered friends – by calling SMUD’s Avian Protection hotline at 1-916-732-6966 to report outages caused by birds, or report birds that are building nests on utility poles or substations. SMUD’s cost-effective strategies for keeping birds out of the electrical equipment are featured in our Avian Protection Plan
SMUD has established a 1,132-acre Nature Preserve on our Rancho Seco property in southeastern Sacramento County. The preserve provides long-term protection of the wetlands for protected animals such as fairy and tadpole shrimp and the California tiger salamander. The preserve offsets the biological impacts of SMUD’s power generation operations. The Howard Ranch Trail in the Nature Preserve is open to the public.
Invasive Mussel Protection
Quagga and zebra mussels are harmful, invasive mollusks in California waters. If they spread, they could cause significant environmental and economic challenges. Although the risk to SMUD’s reservoirs, canals, water pipes, and water cooling systems is low to moderate, SMUD adopted a plan to watch for these mussels and educate the public.
SMUD is committed to following environmental laws and our own policies. We do so through a variety of permits, audits, inspections, and verifications from outside sources. Much of our work in this area falls into the categories below:
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exists to inform decision makers and the public about the potential significant environmental effects of proposed activities. Learn more about the CEQA process and to review SMUD projects that require a CEQA document.
Caring for our waterways is part of SMUD’s operation and construction activities and includes permitting, monitoring, reporting, and employee training. Storm water and other water releases are monitored to ensure that chemical and sediment pollutants do not enter our region’s waterways. SMUD is continuously working to ensure that our operations do not impact the water quality or health and aesthetics of our rivers and lakes.
SMUD staff is on-call 24 hours a day to assist with emergency environmental cleanup and permitting.
Responses may be needed for the cleanup such as oil or other materials due to storms and accidents. Sometimes this may require installing new equipment in environmentally sensitive areas.