I have one word for those who believe that public organizations can’t operate efficiently, and that green energy has to cost more: SMUD.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District SMUD is setting the green standard for utilities to operate both green and efficiently. Residents of the California capitol pay much less for energy than their neighbors, get nearly 20 percent of their power from renewable resources, and receive among the best service in the state. Not bad for a municipally-owned outfit.
SMUD also is one of the first utilities to make solar power available for purchase to all its customers through its Solar Shares program. The utility provides incentives for customers to install residential solar, and works with developers to create “Solar Smart” homes that have integrated solar and several energy efficient features.
SMUD has been generating wind power since 1994, and operates some of the largest turbines in the nation. The utility is among the most aggressive utilities in embracing smart grid technology and renewable energy. SMUD will soon be rolling out smart meters to nearly half of its 1.4 million customers, and these meters will enable customers to save energy by programming thermostats remotely and by shutting off appliances online. SMUD has contracted with Silver Spring Networks to put the smart grid technology in place, with completion of the roll out scheduled for March 2011.