The 1950s

Sacramento booms like never before

While we hit the ground running in 1946, the pace only quickened in the 1950s, when Sacramento saw a burst of growth.

During our first 15 years of service, the number of customers grew from 65,000 to 170,000. Electrical use more than tripled. The Cold War fueled expansion of Sacramento's military bases, bringing thousands of newcomers to freshly built suburbs.

As the economy flourished in the 1950s and jobs became plentiful, Sacramento's booming population boosted demand for electricity. People bought electric ranges, central heating, electric washers, dryers and dishwashers and a range of small appliances -- waffle irons, coffee-makers, electric blankets and bathroom space heaters.

Mostly, Sacramentans embraced air conditioning. In 1959, sales of room air conditioners jumped 92 percent over 1958. For the first time ever, electricity use in Sacramento peaked in the summer rather than the winter.

The Sacramento family farm also changed dramatically. Instead of relying on open irrigation ditches, farmers bought seasonal irrigation pumping and sprinkler systems, which freed them from the whims of nature. Our Farm Sales group introduced farmers and ranchers to electrified dairy barns, infrared brooding, refrigeration and other electrical farm helpers.

Even in the earliest years when everything from trucks, to copper wire to line crews were in short supply -- our employees steadily engineered and built a flexible, well-integrated system. By the end of SMUD's first full decade, our system was able to supply electricity at any time to any home or business in the Sacramento area.

To help bolster our power supply, management negotiated a low-cost contract for federal hydroelectric power from the Central Valley Project. In 1958, to help make Sacramento "energy independent," we began construction on our own system of hydroelectric power plants on the upper American River.

Related Topics

  • The District offers programs to provide equal opportunity to all segments of the business community.
  • SMUD is nationally recognized as a leader in renewable resources and electric transportation.

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