Commemoration of Sacramento Municipal Utility District's 50th Anniversary
Mr. FAZIO of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate and celebrate the recent 50th anniversary of Sacramento's non-profit, community-owned electric company--the Sacramento Municipal Utility District--commonly known as SMUD.
Dissatisfied with high electric rates, on July 2, 1923, Sacramento voters overcame tremendous opposition to approve the creation of SMUD. Although SMUD became a legal entity in 1923, it was another 23 years before the courts upheld the District's right to supply power to the capital region. On New Year's Eve 1946, SMUD began operations.
Throughout its history, SMUD has survived numerous challenges: fighting to restore power during floods and windstorms, teaching customers how to conserve power during the energy crisis of the 1970's, and successfully responding to the closure of Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in 1989. And through it all, SMUD has remained true to its customers. It has consistently sought and developed new and environmentally friendly sources of power. It has educated the public on energy conservation and efficiency when it became a critical national problem. SMUD is currently recognized as an industry leader in energy efficiency and in renewable energy.
For several years, SMUD has been investing in renewable energy sources such as solar and geothermal power plants. Other strategic planning on the part of SMUD, such as aggressive power-purchasing throughout the western U.S., has kept customer rates constant since 1990. SMUD has committed itself to hold customer rates constant until 2001, then reduce them by as much as 20 percent.
In California beginning this year, customers will begin to have a choice of electric supplier--similar to how they currently choose their long-distance telephone company. Last summer, SMUD became the first utility in California to begin offering customers a choice. A limited number of customers, whose combined electricity usage will add up to 100 megawatts of SMUD'S total 2000 megawatts of peak usage, is opened to competition allowing customers to buy power from a supplier of their choice. By moving months ahead of the other utilities, SMUD gained valuable experience, learning the impact of competition on customers and on SMUD operations.
SMUD's commitment to the Sacramento area goes beyond merely providing electrical power. From its inception. SMUD has recognized its responsibility to return something to the community it serves. Last year, as part of the District's Employee Volunteer Program, employees volunteered over 2,300 hours and raised $20,000 to assist non-profit organizations in the Sacramento area. In partnership with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, SMUD customers have planted more than 200,000 trees in Sacramento since the program began in 1990. SMUD is also aiding in the economic development of the Capital Region. By offering competitive economic development rates, SMUD has helped attract and retain successful companies such as Campbell Soup, Blue Diamond, Packard Bell, Kikkoman and JVC. In the past five years, SMUD has helped to attract or retain 13,000 jobs during a period of economic recession. SMUD is also trying to create a cluster of electric vehicle- related businesses at the McClellan Air Force Base which is slated to close in 2001. McClellan is the largest industrial center in Northern California and offers a sophisticated array of high-tech services that can be contracted by private companies.
I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the Sacramento Municipal Utility District on its 50th year and we wish them continued success as they approach the 21st century and the new competitive environment in the electric power industry.