How Does Strategic Electrification Impact You?
We use electricity in our homes and businesses every day – it’s tied to almost everything we do. Electricity has typically come from centralized power plants that have primarily burned fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, but that’s beginning to change. U.S. electricity generation is becoming cleaner, shifting away from high carbon emitting fuels like coal and integrating more renewable sources like solar, wind, and battery storage. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation are already down 27% from their peak in 2007. And the move towards cleaner electricity is picking up speed; 14 states, the District of Columbia, and over 200 U.S. cities and counties have committed to 100% clean electricity within the next several decades. Massachusetts currently has a goal of reducing emissions across sectors by at least 80%, relative to 1990 levels, by 2050. On the Cape and Vineyard, Cape Light Compact’s power supply program already provides customers with renewable energy.
This progress toward cleaner electricity has led states like Massachusetts to include a concept known as strategic electrification in their emission reduction plans. So, what is strategic electrification and how does it affect you? We have put together some information to help you fill in the gaps and know the opportunities available to you.
What is Strategic Electrification?
Strategic electrification is the concept of shifting technologies that use fossil fuels like propane, natural gas, gasoline, or oil, to those that use electricity, when doing so provides a net benefit. End-use customers may benefit from reduced energy costs, increased health and safety, and greater convenience. Electric utilities can benefit from increased electric sales and grid reliability, and the environment can benefit from reduced emissions, especially as electricity generation becomes cleaner. Not all these benefits occur with every conversion from fossil fuels to electricity, however. To define when it is strategic electrification, the Beneficial Electrification League established four criteria; electrification must meet at least one of these criteria without adversely impacting the others to be considered “beneficial”:
- Save consumers money over time
- Benefit the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Improve product quality or consumer quality of life
- Foster a more robust and resilient electric grid
There are many examples of beneficial electrification out there: one you might be familiar with is the electric vehicle (EV). EVs charge using electricity and, therefore, reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with a standard gasoline car. As the electric grid becomes cleaner, these reductions will become even greater. Another example is the heat pump. A heat pump utilizes electricity to heat a home instead of relying on natural gas, propane, or oil. Other emerging opportunities for strategic electrification include landscaping equipment, like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, transportation equipment, such as buses and scooters, and cookstoves.
As electric technologies evolve, many new opportunities for strategic electrification are emerging. A new and increasingly popular one is backup power; with the advancement in battery technology, electric customers are beginning to adopt battery storage in place of generators. A new Cape Light Compact program, ConnectedSolutions, offers an additional incentive to businesses in the Compact’s territory using battery storage. The Compact will also be extending the program to residential customers soon.
The ConnectedSolutions Program
Businesses enrolled in the Compact’s Commercial ConnectedSolutions demand response program can earn incentives simply by reducing energy use when others are using more. Here is how it works: the Compact will call a peak demand event and prompt enrolled businesses to reduce their energy use. Businesses can do so in a variety of ways, including both automated and manual actions. Businesses will earn an incentive-based on their usage reductions over the peak demand events called during the season. If the business uses behind-the-meter battery storage to reduce their demand, it can earn an additional incentive for reducing strain on the grid by drawing upon that energy.
If you are a business owner interested in participating in ConnectedSolutions, you can learn more at CapeLightCompact.org.