Bicycling along the American River


2018 SMUD Sustainability Report

CEO message

“By taking a holistic approach to sustainability, SMUD is serving the social, economic and environment needs of the greater community – for today, tomorrow and years to come.”
— Arlen Orchard

Investing in clean power

Our power mix is among the cleanest in the country. We’re committed to providing customers with 60% renewable energy by 2030. And by continuing to add renewables like solar, wind, biomass and geothermal, we plan to be net-zero GHG by 2040.

This isn’t all we’re doing. 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.

Wind turbines and blue sky

Environmental leadership

Modern society needs electricity almost as much as people need air to breathe. The fewer fossil fuels burned to keep the lights on and our businesses thriving, the better.

SMUD’s environmental stewardship legacy includes:

20% circle graph

The first large California utility to have 20% of its power come from resources classified as renewable by the state. We’re on track to exceed 33% by 2020.

Co2 cloud graphic

The state’s first carbon reduction goals. We’re committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

80% circle graph

A non-carbon power mix of more than 50% when hydroelectricity is factored in. That figure will approach 80% by 2030.

Cow graphic

Clean power can be found in the unlikeliest places — such as dairy farms.

Wind Turbines

SMUD greenhouse gas emissions trend

California is a national leader in greenhouse gas reduction, and SMUD’s goals are even more ambitious than those set forth by the state legislature. By utilizing more renewable resources, we’re helping to improve local air quality. Increasing the energy efficiency of our residential and business customers is an important part of this effort.

Created with Highstock 6.0.3CO2 (equivalent) Metric TonsSMUD Emissions* (MT CO2e)2012 SD-9 Target (25% Below 1990)2020 SD-9 Target (33% Below 1990)2050 SD-9 Target (90% Below 1990)20122013201420152016050000010000001500000200000025000003000000*Less emissions associated with steam sales and wholesale transactions
Father and son planting tree

Investing in our community

SMUD takes being a community-owned utility to heart. From awarding college scholarships to deserving students to offering energy efficiency programs that benefit the environment and lower customers’ bills, we’re invested in making the Sacramento region an even better place to live, work and play.

Employee volunteers

While it’s no surprise that a community-owned utility has employees who care about their communities, SMUD employees go above and beyond.

SMUD Cares, our employee giving campaign, has raised $4 million for charitable organizations since 2005. SMUD employees volunteer more than 16,000 hours annually and currently serve on more than 170 nonprofit and community boards.

In 2017, SMUD received the outstanding organization award from the California Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

$4 million

for charitable organizations since 2005

16,000 hours

volunteered by SMUD employees


nonprofit and community boards served

SMUD volunteers

Helping the less fortunate

Solar panels on roof

Low-income assistance

Assisting customers living in disadvantaged communities has long been an important part of SMUD’s mission. In addition to providing a low-income rate for qualified customers, recent programs include providing free solar panels and thermostats to help reduce the energy burden many customers experience.

To improve housing for generations to come, we’re partnering with other community organizations to develop holistic solutions and tackle the root causes of poverty.

Helping a SMUD customer


SMUD’s EnergyHELP program provides qualified low-income customers with immediate financial assistance to keep their lights on. The program is voluntarily funded by customers who donate anywhere from $1 to $100 a month on their own monthly bills.

Since launching EnergyHELP in 2004, participants have donated more than $5 million to assist more than 33,000 SMUD customers.

With SMUD covering the program’s administrative costs, 100% of the pledges go directly to customers in need.

Habitat for Humanity construction

Habitat for Humanity

SMUD employees have volunteered their time and money to help construct nine Habitat for Humanity homes since 1993.

The most recent Habitat for Humanity home houses a family of refugees from Iraq who came to the United States to escape persecution.

SMUD volunteer helping student

Supporting education

SMUD supports education for two basic reasons: It’s in the community’s interest, and it’s in ours.

The Sacramento region benefits enormously from a well-educated workforce. Supporting the minds and ambitions of young people is the first step.

At SMUD, where many of our employees are nearing retirement age, we’re recruiting and hiring new people to help us continue providing the service our customers expect.

Powering Futures

SMUD’s “Powering Futures” scholarship program awards local students receive college scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 along with paid internships. We also established $25,000 endowments at Sacramento State and UC Davis to fund additional scholarships at the region’s two main universities.

We’re hopeful that some of these bright young minds will wind up working at SMUD, but there’s more to it than that. We’re looking at the bigger picture.

Energy Education & Technology Center

To help educate the public about energy and the environment, SMUD’s Energy Education & Technology Center holds dozens of classes, workshops and events each year. Virtually all of the classes are free and open to the public.

Shine program logo

Shining a light

SMUD’s “Shine” initiative provides funding of up to $100,000 per project to improve and revitalize local neighborhoods.


Energy efficiency and rebates

SMUD’s energy efficiency programs are recognized nationally for their innovative approach, resulting in customer savings of more than $900 million since the 1970s.

Since many energy efficiency upgrades require significant up-front costs, we make it easier for customers to invest in energy efficiency through rebates and home-improvement loans.

Rebates are offered on a range of energy-saving products, from air conditioning systems to LED bulbs. The recently launched SMUD Energy Store provides the best energy products with exclusive rebates for SMUD customers.

Tower Bridge

Transforming Sacramento

With the energy world changing so rapidly, innovation is more than a buzzword. It’s an imperative. SMUD is an innovator on many fronts.

Golden 1 Center

With more businesses and government entities eager to reduce their carbon footprints, it’s beneficial to have a utility partner that’s willing to think outside the box. SMUD helped the Sacramento Kings achieve their goal of making their sparkling new downtown home, the Golden 1 Center, the greenest sports facility in the world. SMUD built a 10.88-megawatt solar plant at Rancho Seco that provides the Golden 1 Center with 85% of its power needs.

Golden 1 Center

Economic development

SMUD has a tremendous impact on the economic health of the Sacramento region. With 2,200 employees, we’re the region’s 19th-largest employer, according to the Sacramento Business Journal, and our annual budget is more than $1.6 billion. A recent study showed that SMUD has a $2.4 billion output of direct, indirect and induced benefits. The many ways in which SMUD supports economic development include:

  • Low rates
  • Excellent power reliability
  • Energy efficiency programs
  • Economic development incentives
  • Service-oriented account representatives
  • Innovation ecosystem support
  • Small-business contracting (SEED program)

Woman charging an EV

Electric transportation

Greenhouse gas emissions from an electric vehicle are typically 70% lower than those released from gasoline combustion engines. As SMUD’s power mix gets cleaner and cleaner with the integration of more renewable resources, the difference becomes even more pronounced.

Simply put, supporting electric transportation supports improved air quality.

SMUD’s decades-long support of electric transportation paid dividends when Volkswagen selected Sacramento to be the nation’s first Green City in its “Electrify America” project. VW announced plans this summer to invest $44 million in Sacramento to provide access to Zero Emission Vehicle technology in disadvantaged communities.

Since 2014, SMUD has opened six fast-charge stations across its service territory, conveniently located in major transportation corridors. Plans are in place to increase fast-charge stations and workplace charging across the region.

The Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit coalition of business, government and environmental leaders, awarded SMUD its 2016 Star of Energy Efficiency Award for Transportation.

Transformative programs


SMUD’s voluntary residential Greenergy program has more than 70,000 customers, ranking second nationally among utility green power programs in terms of participation.

More than 2,000 business customers subscribe to SMUD’s commercial Greenergy program. Businesses are able to offset their electric use with renewable resources for an additional fee based on their usage.

Sacramento Shade

One of SMUD’s most successful energy efficiency stories is our free shade tree program. In addition to their aesthetic value, shade trees can reduce a home’s cooling costs by up to 40% after five years of growth.

Since 1990, Sacramento Shade has delivered more than 500,000 free shade trees to local homes and businesses.

Savings by Design

The Savings by Design program encourages high-performance design and construction for the commercial and industrial sector. SMUD provides a wide range of services, including financial incentives of up to $150,000, for projects that significantly exceed California building energy codes.

Recent beneficiaries include Amazon’s Sacramento fulfillment center, the Golden 1 Center, Sacramento Food Bank, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, and RagingWire Data Centers.

Solar panels at Rancho Seco

Sustainable future

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.

R & D image

Research & Development

SMUD fosters innovation through its R&D program. Key research areas include battery storage, energy efficiency, renewables, demand response, electric transportation, climate change and distributed generation.

Research and pilot projects determine the viability of emerging products, technologies and services. Viable projects are incorporated into SMUD programs and operations.

One recent example of SMUD’s R&D work can be seen in a midtown housing development that uses lithium-ion batteries to store the power generated from the residents’ rooftop solar.

Sacramento River

Sustainability road map

In developing an organization-wide Environmental Sustainability Road Map, we’ve identified seven priority areas:

For a detailed look at SMUD’s sustainability efforts, look at the 2020 road map and the SMUD Board’s strategic directive on Environmental Leadership.