A zero-carbon electric utility
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is on the path to get there by 2030. SMUD’s 2030 Zero Carbon Plan is a flexible road map to eliminate all carbon emissions from our power supply by 2030 – the most ambitious carbon reduction goal of any large utility in the United States. The plan is anchored in maintaining world-class reliability and low rates with a focus on equity to ensure all communities benefit from a clean energy future.
SMUD is the 6th largest community-owned electric utility in the U.S. and has a decades-long reputation for environmental leadership, innovative customer programs and the highest customer satisfaction of all California utilities, based on J.D. Power rankings.
SMUD generates, transmits and distributes electricity to more than 1.5 million people. For over 75 years, SMUD has powered California’s capital region and is leading the way toward a clean energy future through nationally recognized innovation partnerships with U.S. and California energy agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission.
Explore the many ways SMUD is transforming electricity in California.
Clean energy leadership
SMUD is building on 75 years of environmental leadership and is leading the way toward a carbon-free power supply by 2030.
SMUD’s vision is to be a powerful partner for an inclusive zero-carbon economy and our 2030 Zero Carbon Plan is how we’ll get there. Our Zero Carbon Plan focuses on proven clean energy technology, such as wind, solar and biomass energy, electrification of buildings and transportation, new and emerging technologies and partnerships with our customers, regional and state policymakers and local business leaders. Key actions include:
- Tripling our renewable energy resources and supporting and optimizing customer-owned resources like solar and batteries.
- Electrifying the building and transportation sectors.
- Repurposing our natural gas power plants.
- Bringing to scale new technologies like virtual power plants, long-duration energy storage, vehicle-to-grid technology and more.
You can follow our progress toward our zero-carbon goal by viewing our energy dashboards which show our carbon emissions, our carbon reduction progress and customer participation in clean energy programs.
In 2009, SMUD landed the largest Department of Energy grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009. The $127 million grant allowed us to install smart meters across our service area, which serves as the foundation for the advanced clean energy work we’re doing today.
- The technology provided us new information to manage load flexibility and has allowed us to implement many carbon-reducing customer programs such as distributed energy resources, Time-of-Day Rates, automatic switches and more.
- The foundation of this work has continued to support more penetration of renewables in our power mix, as well as the ability to manage our grid with increasing amounts of distributed energy resources.
- We’ve continued to lean in on becoming the utility of the future – with our 2030 Clean Energy Vision, as well as taking the next step from our work on the smart grid to leveraging the next generation of smart meter technology.
Following up on the successful implementation of smart meters, we were recently awarded $50 million from the Department of Energy Grid Deployment Office’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership Program (GRIP) to support advanced smart grid technologies and increase reliability, efficiency and flexibility of the electric grid.
This next generation of smart meter technology sets us up for future grid needs and allows us to integrate more renewable sources and better partner with our customers for load flexibility.
We’re partnering with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe of Miwok Indians on workforce training, home electrification and how to integrate solar and battery storage from Tribal lands into the grid.
California is a leader in environmental policy in the United States and around the world. Learn why its capital, Sacramento, is the ideal place for investment in energy advancements.
California’s climate goals have long set the standard for the United States and beyond, including achieving a 100% clean energy grid and reaching carbon neutrality by 2045. California is home to the 4th largest economy in the world. Sacramento – California’s capital region – is home to more than 2.6 million people – and to one of the greenest arenas in the nation, as well as Amazon’s first zero-carbon fulfillment center. The City and State are known for an aggressive approach to eliminate carbon, which is capturing international attention and federal funding.
- $422 million from the General Fund was awarded to the California Energy Commission for Equitable Building Decarbonization.
- Sacramento has one of the most diverse talent pools in the country and is one of the most productive regions of California. Sacramento is not only the 3rd most diverse region in the country, but is also 3rd nationally for diversity in tech and STEM.
- Sacramento boasts some of the finest higher education institutions and healthcare facilities and is home to some of the world’s most progressive policymakers that continue to advance the 4th largest economy in the world.
SMUD’s purpose is to improve the lives of all our customers. Ensuring all communities benefit from our transition to a clean energy economy is central to our 2030 Zero Carbon Plan. Our plan will improve air quality and community health, boost our regional economy and provide clean tech job opportunities as we transition to a zero-carbon future.
- We’re investing in workforce development training and programs to prepare the regional workforce for high-paying careers in clean energy.
- We’re fostering the development of green buildings by working with developers in the planning, design and construction phases to ensure that we’re building energy efficient buildings featuring the newest clean energy technology.
- We're incentivizing green communities through our Smart Homes program and working with builders to electrify new and existing homes.
- We work with our small businesses to make sure they’re part of the solution. SMUD awards $40-60 million annually to local small businesses. We give preference to those that align with our sustainable values.
- Our Sacramento Power Academy has been training the next generation of utility workers for more than 50 years. It offers 14 apprenticeships to train a robust workforce pipeline in skilled trades and other areas to meet the changing energy needs of the future.
Electrifying buildings and transportation
A key part of our 2030 Zero Carbon Plan is to increase electrification of homes, businesses and vehicles on our roadways.
California’s building sector represents about 25% of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, so electrifying our region’s homes and businesses is critical to achieving our zero-carbon goal. This is an effort that requires targeted education and outreach, particularly in under-resourced communities. To make this happen, SMUD is conducting door-to-door engagement with our customers as well as offering generous incentives. As a result, we enhance safety and improve energy efficiency – neighborhood by neighborhood.
- In one neighborhood, Gardenland, we began by partnering with the neighborhood association and participating in community events. Establishing trust and increasing awareness was the key to success in moving customers from gas to electric-powered homes and businesses.
- Collaborating with partners, SMUD recently completed the largest electrification retrofit project of its kind in California with Sacramento Manor, a low-income, 260-unit senior living community.
With neighborhood electrification, we look to achieve energy efficiency to help our customers save money and to bring us closer to our zero-carbon goal.
Electric transportation is essential to creating a carbon-free Clean PowerCity® by 2030. When it comes to electric vehicle adoption – collaboration, education and outreach are critical. We continuously look for partnerships, grants and emerging technologies that can help us accelerate decarbonization, while creating a more reliable, sustainable grid that brings all our customers and community along in our journey.
- We launched the Managed EV Charging pilot program – a partnership with Ford, General Motors, Tesla and BMW to help EV customers align their charging needs to the time of day when it’s most affordable and is good for the grid.
- We partnered with Green Tech, a clean tech education nonprofit, and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District to build the Del Paso Mobility Hub – a clean ride-sharing hub in a historically under-resourced community where customers can register to borrow an EV for a certain amount of time, free of charge.
- We worked with the Sacramento Regional Transit District and GiddyUp EV to unveil the high-speed charging hub at Power Inn Light Rail Station – one of the largest high-speed EV charging hubs in California, open to the public 24/7.
- We continue to educate our customers – both residential and business – and our own workforce on everything from how to save money charging to managing the grid impacts from EV charging.
Sacramento sits at the intersection of 4 major freeways that transport people and goods across the State and Country. Transportation is the largest carbon emitting sector in California, so reducing vehicle emissions is a large part of our 2030 Zero Carbon Plan. We’re planning for the future and supporting the expanded adoption of electric vehicles with community planning, expanded charging infrastructure, customer rebates, regional partnership and alignment and more.
- Partnering regionally with Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and Sacramento Regional Transit on a zero-emission vehicle strategy to developed consensus and align on regional funding priorities for clean mobility and clean communities that are primed to take advantage of funding opportunities.
- Under SMUD’s 2030 Zero Carbon Plan, we’re planning for 288,000 light-duty EVs and 27,000 medium and heavy-duty EVs by 2030.
- We’re forecasting that EVs will represent over 30% of new load growth over the next 20 years and are investing in customer programs and grid infrastructure to support that growth.
- To help our customers adopt electric vehicles and to help with our grid planning, we’re actively engaging with customers before the start of their EV purchase to help advise on charging needs, rebates and models that fit their lifestyle.
- We’re a founding member of the California Mobility Center, whose goal is to foster innovation in clean mobility.
SMUD’s 2030 Zero Carbon Plan provides equitable opportunities for the entire community, including workforce development, access to energy efficient programs and services and the outreach needed to benefit from a clean-energy economy.
SMUD’s Community Impact Plan ensures that we bring all our customers along in our zero-carbon efforts, especially those from historically under-resourced communities. Our plan acknowledges that under-resourced communities are among the most impacted by climate change. We are focused on inclusive economic development with a goal of attracting new businesses and services, as well as creating a more equitable workforce.
- The Community Impact Plan addresses 3 core areas: affordability, equitable access and community engagement.
- We developed the Sustainable Communities Resource Priorities Map, helping us identify and focus efforts on under-resourced populations.
- The Community Impact Plan also includes creating more capacity for nonprofits to support their communities and offering more community education and outreach. Our employees are highly involved and this year’s employee giving campaign donated $421,000 to local nonprofits.
We’re committed to reaching our zero-carbon goal while keeping rates affordable and providing equitable access so everyone can benefit.
We recognize that bringing our customers along in our journey to zero carbon will be critical to achieving our goal. That’s why we’ve developed a comprehensive campaign to engage our customers in our journey to zero carbon and provide them with a variety of programs that reduce emissions and help them reduce their energy usage.
Our Clean PowerCity campaign asks customers to Join the Charge and take small actions to reduce carbon emissions. More than 90,000 people have joined the charge so far. We invite you to join other in support of our goal.
Our SMUD Energy Store provides rebates on many energy-saving products, including smart thermostats. Customers receive larger incentives when thermostats are paired with our My Energy Optimizer program so we can help control energy use when load reduction is needed most.
Our solar and battery storage rate and supporting program allows us to use customer-owned energy resources to help reduce carbon emissions and maintain reliable service. Customers can share their stored energy with the entire community and we provide generous incentives for doing so.
Our Time-of-Day rate encourages customers to save energy from 5 - 8 p.m. when energy use is at its highest and renewable resources diminish. Managing energy use during peak times helps save customers money, helps us manage our grid and reduces the need for non-renewable sources.
Leveraging technology and partnerships
We’re partnering with regional, state and national leaders on projects that help to scale new and emerging technologies to help reach our goals.
We see energy storage, specifically long-duration energy storage, as a critical bridge to a zero-carbon future. We’re doing some exciting things in the storage space – with customers, with partners and at a utility-scale. As federal dollars increase in the U.S. to support a clean-energy future, we’ll have additional opportunities to pilot and scale new technologies and empower our customers in our zero-carbon journey. We’re investing in long-duration energy storage through our first utility-scale battery energy storage project and with our innovative multi-year partnership with ESS.
- We recently launched our My Energy Optimizer virtual power plant program, enrolling customers with smart thermostats, batteries and electric vehicles to aggregate and share controlled distributed resources. This gives SMUD access to these devices and allows us to more effectively manage load – keeping energy more affordable and reliable.
- We launched Phase I of our ADMS and DERMS systems (Advanced Distribution Management System and Distributed Energy Resources Management System). These technologies are what will allow us to transform our grid from a one-way street to a multi-directional grid, by utilizing customers’ distributed energy resources, including batteries and more.
- We’re installing ESS batteries at our Sacramento Power Academy, which is our training center for utility workers. This helps create workforce development opportunities – a key in bringing our community along in the transition to a clean-energy future.
Reaching zero-carbon emissions by 2030 is an ambitious goal and to get there we’re exploring the potential of new and emerging technologies including the use of hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.
On Oct. 13, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $7 billion in funding to launch 7 regional clean hydrogen hubs across the nation.
The 7 hubs are expected to collectively produce 3 million metric tons of hydrogen annually.
Through the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES), SMUD is partnering with Mote Inc. to establish its second biomass-to-hydrogen and carbon-sequestration plant.
Upon completion, the facility will produce 21,000 metric tons per year of carbon-negative hydrogen for SMUD to use for our thermal power generation and transportation needs.
This project will also process up to 300,000 metric tons of wood waste to sequester more than 450,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
That means removing massive amounts of carbon from the air – about the equivalent of the carbon emissions of over 100,000 cars per year – and helping power our grid with a non-fossil fuel source.
Our progress to zero carbon
Since launching our Zero Carbon Plan in 2021, we’ve made significant strides in our progress to zero carbon, including:
- Added 100 MW of utility-scale solar.
- Added 4 MW lithium-ion battery storage.
- Entered a multi-year collaboration with ESS, Inc. to advance the development of iron-flow, long-duration energy storage up to 400 MW/2 GWh.
- Added 100 MW of geothermal.
- Expanded our wind farm by 85 MW.
- Signed a Power Purchase Agreement for 344 MW solar and 172 MW Energy Storage locally, due online in 2026
- Created a regional Zero Emission Vehicle strategy with SMUD, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Sacramento Regional Transit
- Joined ARCHES to develop a hydrogen economy. Through ARCHES, SMUD partnered with Mote Inc. on a DOE grant to develop a first of its kind biomass gasification facility that will produce clean hydrogen fuel for use in power generation, transportation and industrial applications.
- Partnered with Calpine on a proposed Carbon Capture and Sequestration project for up to 400 MW of CCS at Calpine’s gas plant.
- Launched a managed charging EV pilot for Ford, BMW, GM, VW and Tesla drivers.
- Launched new Virtual Power Plant programs – including My Energy Optimizer® and Peak Conserve℠ – to compensate customers for sharing their distributed energy resources.
- Trained thousands to succeed in clean energy careers.
- Developed a Community Impact Plan focused on workforce development, programs and incentives, outreach and communication, to ensure our under-resourced communities benefit from our 2030 Zero Carbon Plan.