Climate readiness

Climate change will have profound impacts on SMUD’s business by increasing energy demand at the same time that generation and distribution efficiency will fall. In the future, more resources will be needed to produce the same amount of energy while major weather events could pose a threat to infrastructure. These risks to our business range from shifting wind patterns to wildfires.

Given the challenges ahead, we are working to understand and leverage climate science to make our operations more resilient. We’re prioritizing actions to address the most critical impacts of climate change and the most vulnerable components of our power generation system and operations.

With these actions, we aim to improve SMUD’s readiness on behalf of our ratepayers, community, and stakeholders.

Leadership to date

In 2008, SMUD produced the first targeted climate readiness study and adaptation strategy. The review included a “state of the science” assessment to update scientific findings and incorporate lessons from the California Climate Adaptation Strategy, Adaptation Policy Guide, and numerous other resources. The analysis focused on the physical risks most likely to impact SMUD power generation and operations, and incorporated feedback and perspectives from SMUD stakeholders.

This study was updated in 2016 and now includes a Readiness Action Plan with components addressing Community Engagement, Enterprise Programs, Capital Projects and Operational Initiatives.

Using this climate readiness study as a foundation, we’ve been able to make broad progress on integrating climate change into our decision-making processes. In particular, we’re integrating climate change into our emergency preparedness process and are mitigating risks through our investments in grid resilience. A status report of the Readiness Action Plan was completed in 2018.

2020 Climate readiness targets

  • Develop a program to ensure climate readiness across all operations and functional groups at SMUD to ensure smart investments over time.

Strategies and tactics

  • Leverage the best available climate science to make decisions.
  • Update the “state of the science” assessment every four years.
  • Continue to partner with multiple local agencies on flood data analysis and preparedness planning.
  • Take proactive measures to make SMUD more resilient.
  • Conduct research into the impacts of sustainable forest management techniques on wildfire risk reduction and stream flows.
  • Identify systematic opportunities to integrate climate change projections in internal program planning and capital budget development and approval.
  • Investigate opportunities to employ resiliency bonds to finance further readiness measures.
  • Support and participate in the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative to assist public and private partners in the region improve overall climate readiness.