The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is pushing the envelope in lighting technology and helping area businesses take advantage of cutting-edge, ultra energy-efficient products that deliver remarkable energy savings. By replacing and managing fixtures and lamps, savings of 50 percent to more than 75 percent are possible. Twelve companies joined the SMUD Advanced Lighting Controls (ALC) program a year ago and expect to see annual savings ranging from $5,000 to as much as $100,000.

The ALC program also offers automated demand-response capability which helps ensure the reliability of SMUD’s electrical grid on hot summer days.

The ALC program provides rebates and incentives for commercial customers to switch over to technologies they might not otherwise afford and provides manufacturers an entry into the marketplace that might not be available for years to come.

Funding for the pilot was provided by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant through a Department of Energy Smart Grid Infrastructure grant and other SMUD funding. The pilot provided $1.5 million for energy efficiency incentives of 30 cents per kilowatt-hour saved. The maximum per project was $300,000 or 80 percent of the total project cost.

The resulting energy savings are exciting news for SMUD and its commercial customers. SMUD has just announced its own program to follow the successful pilot to help more business customers realize energy savings. The program is timely as California’s Title 24 Energy Standards will mandate dimmable lighting in commercial buildings starting in 2014.

In addition to the significant energy and cost savings, advanced lighting controls provide businesses more sophisticated tools for managing their lighting systems. They can create flexible schedules in specific areas that automatically turn on, power down and dim lighting—down to 20 percent—and improve light quality and increase employee satisfaction. Businesses can track energy costs and savings and monitor energy use in real time onsite or remotely via web-based interfaces including smartphones. Maintenance planning is made easy because facility managers can anticipate and schedule lamp replacement.

“This program helps businesses achieve significant ROI,” said Dave Bisbee, SMUD ALC program manager. “The SMUD team works with control companies and local electrical contractors to deliver technical support throughout the process including calculating potential energy savings based on project specifications and design.” Bisbee leads SMUD’s Customer Advanced Technology (CAT) program, which developed ALC. For more than a decade the CAT program has taken post-drawing board, cutting-edge, but market-ready energy-saving technologies and puts them in real-world use. SMUD rebates and incentives defray the high costs of new technologies preparing for broader commercialization. “SMUD leads the industry in delivering the most energy-efficient products to its customers while putting those products on a fast track to conventional use,” said Bisbee.