Sacramento Utility Sets More Ambitious Climate Goal Than State

Source: By Anthony Robledo, Bloomberg • Posted: Monday, July 20, 2020

(Bloomberg) — The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has set a more ambitious climate goal than California, aiming to be carbon neutral 15 years before the rest of the state.

The utility’s board unanimously adopted a resolution late Thursday to “work towards carbon neutrality by 2030” — a decade sooner than its previous target of 2040. Under state law, all of California’s power must come from carbon neutral sources by 2045.

The company, known as SMUD, “recognizes the risk of uncontrolled climate change and is committed to urgently do more” to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, the resolution states. SMUD would be the first community-owned utility company to set such an aggressive goal, according to the Sacramento Climate Coalition.

“This is a huge moment for an independent publicly owned utility to choose to step up to the climate challenge and acknowledge that we face a climate emergency and choose to do what needs to be done,” said Chris Brown, a coordinator with the Sacramento Climate Coalition.

The non-binding resolution doesn’t detail how SMUD would meet its goal. As of 2018, more than half of the utility’s power came from burning natural gas and its deployment of renewable energy lagged the rest of the state.

The policy is not a plan but a commitment, according to Rob Kerth, vice president of SMUD’s board. The company has until March 31 to come up with a plan to achieve the carbon goal.

“Just like we didn’t know how were going to get to the moon, the president announced it and the best and the brightest stood up and did it,” Rosanna Herber, a SMUD director, said during the meeting. “I’m convinced that our staff can figure this out.”

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