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Reimagining Electricity

Unprecedented electric grid challenges ahead

​Utility executives are facing profound, far-reaching changes in the businesses that they oversee as customers seek greater control of their energy destiny.

So says Arlen Orchard, Sacramento Municipal Utility District chief executive officer and general manager.

“The infrastructure that has served us real well for 70 years needs to be completely reimagined,” Orchard said at the recent California Renewables Rush executive conference in San Francisco organized by The Energy Times. “I cannot install the technology fast enough to keep up with the changes in the industry.”

SMUD is in the middle of California’s sweeping renewables energy push, getting 500-600 applications for new rooftop solar installations each month. The utility is mandated to satisfy three-quarters of its electric demand with carbon free sources of power by 2030.

At the same time, its largest customers like Apple and Intel want more options for clean and renewable power, Orchard said.

“Our customers want more options and near real-time information,” he said. “It’s not business as usual at SMUD. It is a bit daunting.”




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