Sacramento Quietly Evolves as Solar Capital
SacTV.com "video of the day" review by Alex Cosper on Dec. 22, 2011
This Sacramento solar energy clip was selected as "Video of the Day"' on Dec. 22, 2011 because of
its evergreen nature, serving as historic documentation of Rancho Seco's transformation from a nuclear power plant to a solar farm.
After outlining SMUD's history with the plant, this GTTV video takes us on a tour of Rancho Seco. The reason this is such
an important video at the moment is that it's about the only video documentation you'll find on YouTube about Sacramento's evolution
as an important solar development center. Sacramento is one of the most ideal places for solar due to its number of sunny days per year.
Even though this video was produced in 2008, it still delivers factual information that remains useful for people curious about
carbon-free energy from the sun.
Andy Opsahl hosts the video. He is the Green Technology Editor for Government Technology Magazine. Opsahl explains how SMUD purchased
the land in 1966 and began serving the public with nuclear energy in 1977. But high costs and operating inefficiency led to the 1989 voter decision
to close the plant. Since then SMUD has transformed the place into one of the nation's most powerful solar facilities. Adjacent to Rancho Seco's twin towers
is a 20-acre solar farm that was first built in 1984. At the time, it was among the first and largest solar power systems of its kind in the nation.
SMUD PV Project Manager Rachel Huang takes us on a virtual tour of the facility that has expanded into
six solar arrays producing over 3 MegaWatts, although this technology was only generating less than 1% of SMUD's total power at the time of the video.
Some of the information in the video has fallen out of date but the basic historical facts make this video an excellent reference for
researching Sacramento solar development history, in which SMUD has been a national leader and pioneer. Since 2008 SMUD has shown commitment
to solar by helping businesses and residents add solar panels to their roofs. SMUD has also developed an innovative program called "solar shares"
in which energy customers "rent" solar-generated power from solar farms without needing panels on their own roofs at a low monthly rate.
Meanwhile, Sacramento continues to quietly develop as a solar energy epicenter. On Dec. 20, 2011 Google announced on its blog that it will invest
$94 million in development of four solar power plants near Sacramento, which will provide additional solar power to SMUD.