With so many states trying to lure businesses to their cities, why have such pioneering companies as Intel, Siemens Mobility, Micron, and SynapSense chosen to call Sacramento, California, home? Sacramento has a prime central location near the San Francisco Bay Area and key distribution channels via an international airport, deepwater channel seaport, and rail and interstate freeway systems. The region boasts Enterprise Zone areas, offering incentives for companies to locate within the Greater Sacramento area. But perhaps most enticing is Sacramento’s commitment to becoming a green city — currently boasting the second largest number of buildings in the U.S. that are LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
The customer-owned Sacramento Municipal Utility District — affectionately known locally as SMUD — has had at its core values a commitment to innovation, conservation, creativity, and service since its inception in 1946. SMUD leads the nation in its renewable energy policies and energy-efficiency programs. Its wind, hydro, solar, and advanced R&D projects have contributed to SMUD’s standing as the first large California utility to receive 20 percent of its resources from renewable sources.
This dedication has driven SMUD to become a major force in establishing Sacramento as a leading cleantech/
green-tech industry center. As the region’s trusted energy partner, it actively engages its customers in how to increase energy performance and decrease monthly expenses. SMUD’s collaborative spirit with the private sector is evident in the myriad of groundbreaking programs it has developed for Sacramento companies to incorporate energy-efficiency measures throughout their organizations, from design and construction phases to retrofit.
One company that can attest to this collaborative spirit at SMUD is Micron, which acquired Numonyx in 2010 and launched its North American headquarters in Folsom, California, part of SMUD’s service territory. Since data centers can require up to 50 times more power than office space, SMUD’s team worked closely with Micron to optimize energy efficiency in its new 44,000-square-foot facility, resulting in a 15 percent energy consumption reduction and a $150,000 incentive. Micron’s investment payback is estimated at less than two years, with approximately $120,000 ongoing annual savings in electricity costs.
Aerojet, a major space and defense contractor, also based in Folsom, has a corporate mandate for sustainability in all areas of its organization. Aerojet partnered with SMUD in 2009 on a major solar project to install PV panels covering more than 40 acres of its property and generate 6.5 gigawatt hours of electricity a year. Solar panels are mounted on a north-south axis that rotates to track the sun for maximum generation. At the time, this solar project was the largest single-site industrial project in California and one of the largest in the country.
SMUD is setting aggressive goals for renewable energy production, including 125 megawatts of customer-sited,
net-metered solar power by 2016. These decisions are attracting new industries and companies to the Greater Sacramento area and encouraging the expansion of existing companies. Through SMUD’s innovative partnerships and programs, companies have access to renewable energy, reliable electricity, and competitive rates that are consistently lower than other California investor-owned
and other municipal utilities — all items that positively impact the bottom line.