What is Beneficial Electrification?

March 7, 2021

If you’re like most Americans, you’re interested in saving money on energy costs and might also be interested in doing your part to help the environment. But wouldn’t it be great if you could do both? Well, you can! It’s through a concept called “beneficial electrification.” This electric utility industry term means the innovations in energy technologies are creating new ways to use electricity instead of on-site fossil fuels, such as propane, natural gas and fuel oil, in a way that reduces overall emissions and energy costs.

In essence, by virtue of being plugged into the grid, the environmental performance of electric devices improves over time. As wholesale power providers and electric utilities shift to offer more options that include renewable energy sources and make existing energy generation technologies cleaner, electricity will require less fossil fuel per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.

So, here’s how this concept impacts you. It means that electric appliances such as your water heater, clothes dryer, oven and even your lawn care equipment have the potential to become greener. When Stearns Electric takes advantage of advances in technology and the market at the generation point (how the electricity is produced), it means those efficiencies are inherently passed along to you, the consumer-member.

Electricity is getting cleaner
Because large appliances have a typical lifespan of about 10 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 in the near future. This would not be the case with gas appliances where you are essentially locked into the technology of that gas appliance for the 10-year lifespan.

As we tap into more renewable options in the future, your electric appliance has the potential to become greener and more energy efficient. The only way you would be able to benefit from this trend is through an electric appliance.

Small steps to help the environment
For consumers and homeowners looking for more environmentally-friendly options, choosing electric appliances, tools and cars 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 reduce greenhouse gases and help our environment. It can also translate into a better quality of life. For example, when you can trade the loud rumble of a gas-powered mower or blower for the quiet efficiency of electric versions, you eliminate both the exhaust emissions and the unpleasant noise.

How we’re doing our part to help the environment
As the overall energy sector continues to evolve, out wholesale power provider, Great River Energy (GRE) is striving to take advantage of the advances in technology and the opportunities of the market as they become available. This means leveraging the flexibility of the grid to offer a wider range of renewable power selections as we continue to bring safe, reliable and affordable power to our community.

At Stearns Electric, we also promote energy efficiency through programs like Dual Fuel, Cycled Air Conditioning and Stored Water Heating. In addition, through our SmartHub app, we offer our members the convenience and ability to manage and monitor their energy use. To save you money, we also offer rebates for air source heat pumps, electric vehicle chargers and more.

We care about our community because we live here too. Please reach out to Stearns Electric to discuss available renewable energy options and to learn about more ways to reduce your energy use. When you participate in the energy efficiency programs and incentives we offer, you’re doing your part to save energy and better our environment. While each member’s reduction might be small, together, they can lead to significant savings of money and emissions. And that means a brighter future for all of us.

Source: NRECA