The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has officially opened the door to selling two of its wind farms as a cost-cutting measure. SMUD\u2019s Board of Directors voted unanimously Jan. 19 to authorize the muni\u2019s staff to negotiate the terms of a sale of its Solano phases 1 and 2 wind farms to Citigroup Global Markets, the brokerage and securities arm of banking corporation Citigroup. Under the plan, SMUD would sell the facilities and simultaneously enter into a long-term power purchase agreement for the facilities\u2019 renewable output, according to board member Genevieve Shiroma. \u201cIf final agreement for the sale and later right to repurchase the project is completed, SMUD would realize significant financial benefits,\u201d she said. The board\u2019s approved action set a deadline of June 30 for contract negotiations. Any final agreement negotiated would be brought back to the board for review and possible approval, Shiroma said. The Phase 1 project is a 24 MW facility that was completed in 2004; the 63 MW Phase 2 project went up in 2006. The muni set a precedent for the deal last year when it completed a similar transaction regarding the Solano phase 3 wind project, a 128 MW wind farm under construction on 4,200 acres in southern Solano County. In September, SMUD\u2019s board voted to enter negotiations to sell the Solano 3 Wind Project, also to Citigroup Global Markets. At the time, the utility said there were several benefits to transferring ownership of the project to a taxpaying entity, including qualifying for federal grant incentives up to 30 percent of the fair market value of the facility. Selling Solano 2 to a for-profit entity enabled it to qualify for about $78 million in federal stimulus funds earmarked for renewable projects--money that the non-profit SMUD doesn\u2019t qualify for. A week earlier, SMUD revealed it is considering buying electricity from outside sources due to a lack of rain and snow. The shortage of precipitation has resulted in curtailing generation at the muni\u2019s Upper American River hydro project, which consists of 11 reservoirs and eight powerhouses. \u201cIf the dry conditions continue, we may have to buy 1 million MWh of replacement energy on the spot market,\u201d board member Renee Nunes Taylor, head of SMUD\u2019s finance committee, said Jan. 12. She noted that while there is a lack of snowfall, \u201cnatural gas prices remain very low, and this means that the replacement power will not be nearly as expensive as it has been in the past.\u201d Also during that meeting, board member Howard Posner gave an update on SMUD\u2019s \u201csmart\u201d meter installation program. More than 605,000 meters have been installed and a little more than 10,000 installations remain, he said. The rest are expected to be complete by the end of March. The utility estimates that in 2012, the new meters will eliminate the need for over 100,000 utility truck trips. \u201cThat\u2019s a huge savings in gas, wear and tear on vehicles, staff time, and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas and other emissions,\u201d Posner said.