Plug and socket

Apart from being the man who led the Sacramento community, in June 1989, to shut down its risky and expensive Rancho Seco nuclear power plant, Ed Smeloff is best remembered—at least in SN&R lore—for a simple photograph.

Printed over and over again in our pages during those early years, the photo was taken in a backroom of the SN&R offices when we were located on V and 21st streets. Shot by then-SN&R photographer Glen Korengold, the image was a close-up of a goofily grinning Smeloff, holding a standard power cord. He was inches away from sticking the plug into the socket.

As it turns out, this fellow is still trying to make electricity flow.

The community activist turned SMUD board member left Sacramento some time ago. But he makes an appearance in this week’s cover story (“Solar Sacramento”) by Ralph Brave. It was a treat to learn that Smeloff (who served as a SMUD director from 1987 to 1997 and led the effort to steer the post-nuclear SMUD onto its current path as a national alternative energy leader) is still kicking around the old neighborhood now and then.

As Brave details in his story, Smeloff is senior manager for Sharp USA Solar Project Sales and is involved, among other things, in a major solar installation now under way in West Sacramento.

As we approach Earth Day 2006, there’s no denying that widespread use of alternative energy has been a long time (too long a time) in coming. After all, it was 25 years ago when then-Governor Jerry Brown launched Solar Cal, a major initiative that would have had California going solar in a big way. But things didn’t work out as planned. Ultimately, the state missed out on an opportunity to have advanced a few decades ahead of where it is today when it comes to utilizing alternative energy sources instead of those derived from fossil fuels.

Still, it’s positive that things finally seem to be taking off for solar. Yes, the “Million Solar Roofs” incentive program for California is late in arriving. But, as a grinning Ed Smeloff surely would agree, late is surely better than never at all.