SMUD OKs Renewable & Shade Tree Deals

By Published On: November 13, 2009

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District board approved a 20-year power purchase agreement with Buena Vista Biomass Power to buy 16 MW from a repowered biomass plant in Ione. The board also voted to authorize the muni’s general manager to negotiate a five-year or ten-year contract with Aerojet General for 2 MW of photovoltaic installations. The 20-year biomass deal, which includes an option for five additional years, is expected to supply up to 123 GWh a year. The plant is supposed to be online the third quarter of 2010. General Manager/CEO John DiStasio was given approval to negotiate a contract for $4.5 million for five years or $5.5 million for ten years of PV power. Any final deal would include performance-based incentive payments. Performance-based incentives pay a flat cents-per-kWh payment for all generation from the PV system. Only what is produced is paid for. That’s in contrast to a one-time incentive that pays for projected power production based on calculations factoring the module rating, inverter efficiency, shade, tilt and orientation. Under a proposed five-year deal, Aerojet would receive up to 21 cents/kWh for performance; under a 10-year deal, it would be 13 cents/kWh. The amount, based on system generation, would be paid monthly, according to SMUD spokesman Chris Capra. In other news, the board approved a contract between SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation to provide shade trees for utility customers. The two-year agreement is not to exceed $871,000. “The 2010 goal is to plant 13,000 residential trees and 5,000 community trees that will equate to a cumulative benefit of 6.2 MW or 13.3 GWH per year in direct cooling load savings,” said board member Renee Taylor Since 1990, SMUD, in collaboration with the tree foundation, has provided free shade trees to qualifying customers to reduce their summer cooling costs and peak demand. Since the program’s inception, about 450,000 shade trees have been planted A staff financial forecast for 2010 through 2011 expects staff to continue to find operational savings. “Based on current market prices for natural gas, no rate increase is predicted by the staff for 2012,” said board member Larry Carr. “Or no rate increase requests, anyway.” DiStasio, however, said that was not definitive. “I’d like to hold any recommendation on that until closer to the date since we’re looking at a three-year forecast,” he said. “Those forecasts don’t always hold.”

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