Energy Efficiency for Today’s World

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson sees environmentally beneficial electrification as a way to rethink efficiency and productivity. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson sees environmentally beneficial electrification as a way to rethink efficiency and productivity. (Photo By: Michael W. Kahn)

"The notion of 'environmentally beneficial electrification' is something that should cause us all to rethink what we talk about on efficiency and productivity," said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson.

Environmentally beneficial electrification means using electricity in end uses that otherwise be would powered by other fuels.

And electric cooperatives are on the case.

Speaking at the Alliance to Save Energy's Great Energy Efficiency Day 2017, Matheson pointed to a hot water heater program at Great River Energy, the Maple Grove, Minnesota-based G&T.

"We have over 65,000 grid-enabled hot water heaters," in the service territories of Great River Energy's distribution members, Matheson told a Feb. 8 panel on Capitol Hill.

"Grid-enabled means we can manage when they fire and when they don't," so the G&T can shut them when wholesale power costs are high. Another benefit Matheson cited: "They can collectively store a gigawatt of power."

Matheson also noted that electric heat pumps are becoming "so remarkably efficient" that they're on the way to becoming "the preferred way to heat a building or a house, from a cost and an environmental perspective."

And electric vehicles also have a role to play in environmentally beneficial electrification. While today's EVs are achieving a certain amount of success, there is potential for "greater gains as we increase the capacity for storage and battery size," Matheson said.

"From a technology standpoint, if we continue to move along the curve for battery efficiency, that's where the opportunities in the transportation sector will manifest themselves," he told the panel. "It's going to make the environmentally beneficial aspects of this even more pronounced."

Matheson said the electric co-ops, located from busy suburbs to the most rural parts of the heartland, offer "a dynamic opportunity for innovation, because those co-ops are in so many different situations, and they have great diversity across our membership."

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