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Sacramento Shade program marks 25th anniversary

October 21, 2015

SMUD and the Sacramento Tree Foundation recently celebrated 25 years of partnership with the planting of a ceremonial willow oak at the southeast corner of SMUD’s Headquarters building. The partnership—known as the Sacramento Shade program—has delivered more than half a million free shade trees to residences and businesses since 1990.

“The Sacramento Shade program has been helping our customers cool their homes and save money for more than two and a half decades,” said Sacramento Shade program manager Misha Sarkovich. “We’re very proud to have helped Sacramento become the ‘city of trees.’”

Sacramento Shade provides a wide variety of benefits to homeowners and the community:

  • Shade trees can reduce home cooling costs up to 40 percent after five years of growth. 
  • Shade trees help reduce the community’s peak electricity demand. This allows SMUD to purchase less power on the open market, helping keep rates affordable and improving grid reliability. 
  • The cumulative effect of the trees planted since 1990 has reduced Sacramento’s annual electricity use by about 15 gigawatt-hours. That’s enough energy to power approximately 20,000 homes. 
  • Shade trees help reduce atmospheric carbon as well as the urban heat-island effect.

“I really believe that the past 25 years of the Sacramento Shade program represent the most positive, impactful and beloved community benefit program Sacramento County has ever experienced,” said Ray Tretheway, Executive Director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation.

Over the last 25 years, the Sacramento Shade program has taken advantage of a number of technological innovations in order to serve customers more quickly and efficiently. The newest example is a web-based, interactive tree placement tool. By visiting arborday.org/smud, customers can try out different trees and configurations to see what combination produces the most energy savings. They can then order their trees right from the website. Once the order is placed a Community Forester will follow up to provide expert species selection advice and ensure optimal tree placement.

Customers who prefer to speak with a professional before participating can visit sactree.com/shadetrees to view available trees and make an appointment with an expert Community Forester. They can also call the Sacramento Tree Foundation directly at 916-924-TREE (8733). SMUD customers can request up to 10 free trees. The trees—along with stakes and ties—are also delivered for free, usually within two weeks.

SMUD was the first utility in the nation to establish a large-scale, utility-funded tree planting program. SMUD has also won the Tree Line USA award 14 years in a row. Tree Line USA is a national program recognizing utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests.