A $3.4 billion stimulus grant announced yesterday in Florida has turned into an amazing score for Sacramento. The region's public utility, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, has received $127.5 million - 63 percent of all the money steered to California - to install 600,000 smart meters and set up a smart grid. And that's just the beginning of what the bounty will bring - and how it will help homeowners and business save energy and money in the long run.
The first meters will be installed this fall, and then early next year it starts with 60,000 meters a month until every residence and business in SMUD's territory (Sacramento County and a slice of Placer County) has one. Sacramento State is also going to install smart meters in 50 campus buildings and the state is doing the same with 24 office buildings in downtown Sacramento.
Here is the story explaining what may be the largest federal grant ever received in Sacramento - in this morning's Bee.
Here is SMUD's announcement issued yesterday.
And here is the announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy. (Search it for links to all the awardees nationally. Other cities, other utilities, makers of appliances and systems control technology).
Our congressional reps were ecstatic at this big deal. Here is the announcement of the grant from Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento. Here's an announcement of the stimulus award from Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also had a reaction with this statement.
I'm somewhat of a newcomer to this smart grid business. I've seen what's possible in SMUD's "houses of the future," which it tricks up with all the newest energy efficiency technology to show contractors how it's done. But I was really struck by a phone conversation yesterday with Emir Macari, a Sacramento State dean and authority on this as head of the university's year-old California Smart Grid Center. He said it's the biggest revolution in the electrical grid in the century that it's existed. And I expect his is a name that will become very familiar in Sacramento as this money hits the ground.
Sacramento State is poised to really benefit from this. It never got rid of its power engineering studies program and today supplies 60 percent of California's utility engineers.
What it all seems to mean is jobs - lots of jobs - for a region that sorely needs them, a real kick finally for this struggling economy. Good news at last.