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Sacramento Municipal Utility District Projects

November 13, 2013 - 10:45am


The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in Sacramento, California, is looking to local renewable resources to help meet its aggressive renewable energy retail sales goal of 37% by 2020. To help achieve this goal, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided more than $5 million in funding for five SMUD Community Renewable Energy Deployment (CommRE) projects.

Simply Solar

SMUD's CommRE portfolio of projects included one solar project. Initially, the utility intended to team with CalTrans and SolFocus to deploy the Sacramento Solar Highways effort. SMUD released a solicitation for a developer for the Solar Highways effort and did not receive an economically viable submittal. Because of this, SMUD terminated the Solar Highways project with DOE approval.

SMUD changed course, released a solicitation, and is now teaming up with Conergy to develop an approximately 1.5 megawatt community-scale solar project, to be called Simply Solar. Conergy has been awarded approximately $1.6 million in grant funding from DOE, with an additional $125,000 available in matching funds from the California Energy Commission (CEC), pending final execution of the funding agreement with the CEC. Conergy will design, construct, finance, own, and operate a new photovoltaic or concentrating photovoltaic system located within SMUD's service territory.

Biogas Digestion Systems

The remaining projects in SMUD's CommRE portfolio focused on biogas.

  • Regional County Sanitation District Wastewater Treatment Facility

    A new process at the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (SRCSD) wastewater treatment facility will co-digest fats, oils, and grease (FOG), and food processing waste (FPW), such as off-specification soda pop, with sewage to generate biogas. During 2009, SRCSD and SMUD conducted a biogas enhancement pilot test to evaluate the feasibility of using FOG and FPW, which confirmed that FOG and other FPW used in the anaerobic digesters improved the overall biogas production and would provide more electricity from the green energy source. Construction was completed in 2012, and the facility is currently in the commissioning process.

    Learn more about this project, including the anticipated benefits, on the SRCSD Biogas Project website or watch a video on the project.

  • Dairy Anaerobic Digestion Systems

    Anaerobic digestion systems will be installed at the New Hope and Van Warmerdam dairy facilities, as part of this SMUD CommRE project. The systems will produce biogas used to generate about 1.1 megawatts of energy. Construction at both facilities began in 2012 and is expected to be completed in May 2013.

  • Garden Highway Foods Anaerobic Digestion

    When SMUD was award the grant for the CommRE projects, the utility had planned five projects including the Garden Highway Foods Anaerobic Digestions project planned for development by Real Energy. Soon after the grant was awarded, Garden Highway Foods decided not to participate in the project. Real Energy started discussions with BLT Enterprise to have the project at the Sacramento Recycling and Transfer Station. After prolonged discussions, Real Energy could not secure this site. The team with DOE approval decided to terminate the project and reallocation the DOE funding to the remaining four projects.

Environmental and Economic Benefits

The CommRE projects will help SMUD meet its 37% by 2020 renewable energy goal. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the projects will also demonstrate that solar projects and anaerobic digesters can be readily implemented through collaborative partnerships. Other communities will be able to learn how to avoid siting issues and transmission constraints that pose barriers to renewable energy capacity additions.

Community Outreach

SMUD has created partnerships to implement the CommRE projects with California Bioenergy, MT-Energie USA, Inc, New Hope Dairy, Maas Energy Works, Van Warmerdam Dairy, Conergy and SRCSD.

SMUD will partner with the State of California, including the CEC and the California Air Resources Board, to promote replication of their approaches, technologies, and implementation strategies statewide and nationally.

Learn about California's Renewable-Based Energy Secure Communities (RESCO) program funded by DOE and the CEC.