SMUD, the community-owned utility serving the Sacramento area, has been a leader in renewable energy since building the first utility-scale solar array in the country in 1984. SMUD purchases excess power from home solar systems and offers all customers the option of getting solar power through SolarShares. For a flat monthly fee, participants buy a share of a local solar farm and get credit on their bills for the amount of power generated by their share. Customers who join SMUD’s Greenenergy program choose to get 50% of their electricity from renewable sources for an additional $3 charge per month or 100% renewable for $6 per month. Forty percent of Greenenergy payments are used to develop new local renewables like the three wind turbines at SMUD’s Solano Wind Farm.

A third option, SMUD’s Carbon Offset Program, lets customers support projects that reduce greenhouse gas emission by paying an additional $10 per month on their bill. A recently completed project is a dairy digester that uses methane from cow manure to run a turbine that makes electricity to power the dairy.