What is Beneficial Electrification?

Posted: March 5, 2021 at 9:50 a.m.

If you’re like most Americans, you’re interested in saving money on energy costs and doing your part to help the environment. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do both? Well, you can!

It’s through a concept called “beneficial electrification.” This 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. Beneficial electrification makes especially good sense with Cloverland Electric Cooperative’s low rates (the third lowest in the Upper Peninsula and the lowest among all electric cooperatives in Michigan.)

In essence, by virtue of being plugged into the grid, the environmental performance of electric devices improves over time. As Cloverland and other utilities shift to more options that include renewable energy sources to make existing generation technologies cleaner, electricity will require less fossil fuel per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. Electrons that flow through our wires come from two renewable sources – Cloverland’s hydro plant and the Corps of Engineers’ hydro plant located at the Soo Locks.

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 Cloverland 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.

Since large appliances have a typical lifespan of about 10 years, it means that you can 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. It would not be the case with gas appliances where you are essentially locked into the technology of that gas appliance for a 10-year lifespan.

As Cloverland can 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 lawnmowers, blowers and weed whackers (plugin or rechargeable) or through electric water heaters and other appliances, beneficial electrification is a means to reducing greenhouse gases and helping 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 exhaust emissions and unpleasant noise.

How we’re doing our part to help the environment

As the overall energy sector continues to evolve, Cloverland is striving to take advantage of the advances in technology and the opportunities of the market as our current power supply contract allows. This means Cloverland can leverage 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.

We also promote energy efficiency through programs like Michigan-energy.org, which includes rebates for appliances to save you money. In addition, through our free SmartHub app, we offer our members a convenient way to manage and monitor their daily energy use.

We care about our community because we live here too. I hope you’ll reach out to Cloverland Electric, your trusted energy partner, to learn about 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 seem minimal, together, small changes add up to significant savings of money and emissions. That means a brighter future