This month's question: How and why are you promoting beneficial electrification to your members?

Answer: Last year, Beartooth Electric Cooperative partnered with two regional nonprofits on an all-electric, affordable model home that will showcase the benefits of electrification and educate our members about how going electric helps them and the environment. Key features include Energy Star appliances, a super-insulated building shell and a heat pump water heater. BEC saw an opportunity to take it a step further by funding a high-efficiency mini-split ducted heat pump and a 3.65-kW net-metered solar array. Why did we do this? First and foremost, because these technologies help our members improve their lives, provide year-round comfort and save money. Any time we can do that, we will. At BEC, we also believe it’s our role and responsibility to help our members and our industry make the transition to a clean energy future. In my long career in the electric industry, I have not come across a concept that is more positive, more useful or more explainable than beneficial electrification, or what I sometimes call “strategic electrification.” It cuts through all the noise and boils down very complex equations into ideas that everyone can understand. Whether that’s electric vehicles or induction stoves, heat pumps or electric lawnmowers, BE offers us an unprecedented opportunity to help our members, help other co-ops and help our planet under one single concept. This is the future of our industry, and Beartooth Electric will continue our work to bring its benefits to our members in every way we can.

Answer: Pee Dee Electric views beneficial electrification as an opportunity to provide innovative solutions to meet the unique needs, interests and environmental goals of our members, while also creating load growth for the cooperative. In 2021, Pee Dee Electric partnered with an agricultural member, White Rock Farms, to find an efficient alternative to replace a large diesel motor used to pump animal waste from a lagoon. In cooperation with North Carolina Electric Membership Corp., we assisted White Rock Farms in securing a Beneficial Electrification League grant to purchase a 60-kilowatt single-phase electric motor. By switching from diesel to electricity, White Rock Farms has reduced emissions while cutting down on fuel and labor costs. In utilizing a large horsepower single-phase motor for the pump, the cooperative and the member avoided the cost of converting the cooperative’s lines to three-phase. The project also provides increased kilowatt-hour sales for the co-op, benefiting the entire membership. Pee Dee Electric also sees beneficial electrification as an opportunity to enhance service to residential members. We offer rebates for electric heat pumps, heat pump water heaters and electric vehicles, as well as a special rate for vehicle charging. We are evaluating a smart thermostat and water heater control program. At Pee Dee Electric, we are excited to continue our work to build a brighter local future through innovation and beneficial electrification solutions for our members.

Answer: We are constantly looking for ways to improve our members’ lives. Beneficial electrification is an excellent way to achieve this goal. There are numerous ways to engage and serve our members through BE efforts, which is why we are conducting a thorough BE feasibility study. This study will help us identify and prioritize all the opportunities within the BE space and develop a roadmap for us to follow over the next several years. Prior to launching this study, we were already active in educating our members about BE, because we want them to see how utilizing electrical appliances, vehicles and power tools can create positive change in their daily lives. Through local partnerships on EV events (including ride-and-drive events) and by adding rebates for e-bikes, e-mowers and e-snowblowers, we have really opened up BE to members who had not experienced the benefits of converting to electricity. When member-owners experience these benefits firsthand, they start to become more interested in what BE means for their future. As our industry continues to evolve, YVEA is striving to take advantage of the advances in technology and the opportunities of the market. This means YVEA is embracing BE and the many system and member benefits it can offer.

Answer: Striving to solidify our 18 member cooperatives as trusted energy partners in their communities, we have seen several early successes in beneficial electrification at Hoosier Energy. Following our kickoff Electrify! Indiana conference in 2019, we have surged into research pilots and program development across our service territory. With a focus on flexibility and pilot research, our staff and members have begun to reap the many benefits of beneficial electrification. At Hoosier Energy, we focus on four sectors of member-consumers: residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural. Residentially, we are exploring legacy energy efficiency programs and their transition to BE benefits with heat pump HVAC technologies. Cooperative Charge, our electric vehicle charging pilot, offers data collection opportunities at both the residential and commercial level, driving corporate strategy of the future in the EV investment space. Electric outdoor power equipment incentives and investments, with the help of grant funding for waste-heat recovery research in poultry houses from the Beneficial Electrification League, have opened the door to opportunities within the agricultural space. In 2020, we introduced a committee of member cooperative staff to guide BE strategy. This engagement will be essential in the success of our BE programs and services.