How using electricity can save you money plus 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. This idea of “beneficial electrification” or “efficient electric” 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.
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.
Because large appliances have a typical lifespan of 15 to 20 years, it means that you are able to benefit from the flexibility of the grid in addition to the increased efficiency of the particular appliance. 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 where you are essentially locked into the technology of that gas appliance for the 15 to 20 year lifespan. As your co-op is able to tap into more renewable options in the future, the only way you would be able to benefit from this trend is through an electric appliance.
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. Whether through electric lawn mowers, blowers and weed whackers (plug-in or rechargeable) or through electric water heaters and other appliances, beneficial electrification is a means to reducing greenhouse gases and helping the environment.
Additionally, using electric appliances and equipment could result in lower costs to members and emissions reductions. For example, an electric water heater powered by renewable wind or solar power or other electricity source that saves members money, reduces carbon emissions, and helps the grid operate more efficiently is definitely an example of beneficial electrification.
At the national level, electric co-ops across the country are purchasing and generating more renewable resources, bringing wind, solar and geothermal energy into the electric power system, which means electricity is becoming greener. As the overall energy sector continues to evolve, your cooperative is striving to take advantage of the advances in technology and the opportunities of the market as they become available. This means we can leverage the flexibility of the grid to offer a wider range of renewable power choices as we continue to deliver safe, reliable and affordable power to our community.
Learn more by visiting the Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) website.