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The advantages of beneficial electrification

What is beneficial electrification?

This idea of “beneficial electrification,” also referred to as “strategic electrification,” means that innovations in energy technology are creating new ways to use electricity instead of on-site fossil fuels such as propane, natural gas and fuel oil.

 

Strategic electrification can benefit the environment

As electric utilities shift to more options that include renewable energy sources and make existing generation technologies cleaner, electricity uses less fossil fuel per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. 

In addition to the utility industry, environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recognize the value of this concept. Sheryl Carter, Co-Director, NRDC Energy Program, commented that, “Beneficial electrification will continue to play a big role in accelerating this transition in an effective and economic way, to the benefit of consumers, energy resilience and the environment."

 

Electric appliances can become greener over time

As a practical matter, beneficial electrification means that electric appliances, like your water heater, clothes dryer and oven have the potential to become greener over time. When your electric co-op takes advantage of advances in technology and the market at the generation point, it means those efficiencies are inherently passed along to you, the co-op member.

Large appliances have a typical lifespan of 15 to 20 years. As a result, when the electrical grid transitions to cleaner renewables, your appliances become greener. In other words, the high-efficiency electric oven you have today could be powered by renewable sources three years from now. This would not be the case with gas appliances. With these appliances, you are essentially locked into the technology for the next 15 to 20 years. With electrical appliances, you can benefit as your co-op transitions to more renewable options in the future.  

 

Small steps save energy and benefit the environment

For members looking for more environmentally-friendly energy options, choosing electric appliances over those powered by fossil fuels is an easy solution. Electrifying the following appliances can help to reduce greenhouse gases and positively impact the environment:

  • Lawn mowers

  • Weed wackers

  • Water heaters 

  • Other appliances

 

Additionally, using electric appliances and equipment could result in lower costs to members and emissions reductions. A great example of strategic electrification would be an electric water heater, powered by wind, solar or some other kind of renewable power source. Examples like this help to reduce carbon emissions, save coop members money and increase the efficiency of the electrical grid.

Electric co-ops across the country are generating more of their energy using renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal. As a result, the electricity they produce is becoming greener over time. 

Your cooperative is striving to take advantage of these advances in technology as they become available, which will allow them to leverage the new found flexibility of the electrical grid. This flexibility should allow each one of them to deliver safe, reliable and affordable power to your community. 

 

Learn more by visiting the Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) website.

 

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