Food Bank to save thousands on electricity to keep up with demand in services

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Through funding from SMUD’s Community Solar program, and a partnership with local nonprofit GRID Alternatives North Valley, the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services received a solar system on its Arata Brothers building in Oak Park. The 35-kW solar system will save nearly $200,000 on electricity costs – leaving more money available to deliver needed community support services.

Media is welcome to visit for pictures of the solar install

and interviews from 9 – 10:30 a.m.

“As long-time solar advocates, we’re proud to be supporting community organizations that serve our most vulnerable residents,” said Erik Krause, SMUD’s director of Retail Product Delivery and Sales. “This partnership has helped to deliver solar for community organizations and residential homes at a crucial time – allowing dollars to be directed where they are needed most.”

For the past 40 years, the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services has connected people to resources such as utility bill assistance, clothing, food and legal support. Over the past few months, it has seen a massive spike in demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shelter-in-place directive. More and more families are seeking food and support services as the economy is being hit with large swaths of job losses. This increase has meant a rise in operating costs for the Sacramento Food Bank.

In order to sustainably keep operating at these heightened levels, the nonprofit received a 35-kW solar system that will help offset 45 percent of its electricity usage.

“We are incredibly grateful to SMUD and GRID Alternatives for their partnership,” said Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services CEO Blake Young. “This important solar install project will increase our energy efficiency and provide critical financial savings. This will allow our organization to allocate more dollars to providing healthy food resources and education for people in need.”

SMUD’s Community Solar program develops partnerships with local schools, nonprofit organizations, and low-income housing organizations such as the Sacramento Food Bank. Together, they educate the community on the importance of renewable energy, including solar.

The projects focus on organizations that have a commitment to help the underserved and disadvantaged in our community. This allows nonprofits to benefit from lower electric bills so they can redirect their funds to help the underserved and disadvantaged. SMUD’s partnership with GRID Alternatives dates back to 2016 when they partnered to install solar and weatherization on both single-family homes and local nonprofits.   

GRID Alternatives North Valley is a nonprofit that helps mission-aligned nonprofits like the Sacramento Food Bank save on the cost of operations with solar, so they can focus on their core support services and lower their carbon footprint with clean, affordable solar energy. All GRID projects include deep community engagement and workforce development for local job trainees. The idea is not only to save money and help combat climate change but to expose local trainees to careers in the growing clean energy industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for solar photovoltaic installers is expected to grow 63 percent from 2018 to 2028, and the median salary is $21.58 per hour.

“GRID Alternatives is pleased to partner with SMUD and the Sacramento Food Bank,” said Rebekah Casey, deputy director, GRID Alternatives North Valley. “As a nonprofit ourselves, we understand the need to put every available dollar into service to the community. Rooftop solar combined with energy efficiency is a way to predictably decrease the Food Bank’s long-term overhead and increase food security for Sacramento residents.”

For those receiving solar, the amount of savings it can generate for an organization depends on many variables, including the size of the system, geographic location, and current electricity rates. The total savings this system will provide for the Sacramento Food Bank is nearly $200,000 over its lifetime. Renewable energy is now a part of the solution to decrease the number of food-insecure people in Sacramento and will support the effort for more economic and environmental equity.

About GRID Alternatives North Valley

GRID Alternatives North Valley is an affiliate of GRID Alternatives, a national leader in making clean energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities. GRID North Valley has installed 1,466 solar electric systems for low-income households to-date, with a combined installed capacity of saving over $45 million in lifetime electricity costs and preventing over 86,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Through the program, 2,000 people have also received training. For more information, visit or click here to learn about solar and storage solutions for nonprofits.

About SMUD

As the nation’s sixth-largest community-owned, not-for-profit, electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 70 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD’s power mix is about 50 percent non-carbon emitting. For more information about SMUD, visit


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