California Utility Prioritizes Carbon Metric March 30 2020, 0 Comments

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has begun using an innovative carbon based accounting approach. It says, in part:

Currently, 65 percent of customers in the United States are served by a utility with a carbon or emission reduction goal, according to the SEPA [Smart Electric Power Alliance] Carbon Reduction Tracker.

...SMUD is leading the way in not only committing to zero-carbon but also aligning internal goals directly with avoided carbon as the key metric. Moving to a carbon-based accounting approach is critical for utilities like SMUD to meet their greenhouse gas goals, especially as they electrify all residential energy use.
Slides regarding this initiative can be found here.

A few editorial observations:
  1. This may be a good example of public ownership providing a quicker route to positive climate action.
  2. From looking at the materials, it also looks like yet one more example of a building decarbonization strategy that discovers the problem of peak electric demand resulting from the use of air source heat pumps without examining geothermal heat pumps as the solution to that problem.
  3. The Sacramento approach looks similar to Beneficial Electrification Earning Adjustment Mechanisms that have become a standard part of NY utility rate cases, opening some space for possible collaboration and cross pollination.
Thanks to NY-GEO member Joe Parsons for this tip.