Understanding the Trend Toward Strategic Electrification

As states across the country pursue aggressive carbon reduction strategies, strategic electrification has become a cornerstone of decarbonization. Strategic electrification aims to increase reliance on electric-powered versus fossil fuel-powered technology when doing so provides a net benefit. Benefits of strategic electrification include the ability to reduce energy use, save consumers money, lower air pollution, and support a more resilient energy grid, among others.

Statewide Plans to Electrify  

At the state-level, strategic electrification is a pillar of the recently-passed, landmark Massachusetts climate change legislation, which aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This climate law sets benchmarks for the adoption of heat pump and energy storage technologies, increases solar incentives, and motivates a movement toward net-zero buildings through the adoption of higher building performance standards, all of which contribute to the strategic electrification approach.

At the community level, Cape Light Compact is also committed to advancing strategic electrification across the Cape and Vineyard. As one of the six Sponsors of Mass Save®, the Compact prepares a Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plan that outlines the approach for designing and delivering a program that maximizes benefits to residents and businesses while also making progress toward statewide energy and climate goals. As part of the 2019-2021 plan, the Compact and fellow program Sponsors implemented various approaches to advance strategic electrification, including incentives for high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment, rebates for energy-saving water heating equipment, and fuel-switching programs. For our new three-year energy efficiency plan that launches in 2022, strategic electrification will play a larger role in helping achieve energy and emissions reduction targets.

Electrifying Your Home or Business

How can you play your part in advancing electrification across the state? We’ve outlined three steps to get you started.

Step 1: Minimize the amount of energy necessary to power your home or business by making energy efficiency improvements. Making even small changes to increase the efficiency of your home or business and reduce energy waste is a great place to begin. By completing our no-cost energy assessment at your home or business, you will receive a customized outline of energy efficiency recommendations and associated incentives. For example, renters and homeowners may be eligible to receive no-cost air sealing, LED bulbs, and water fixtures, 75% to 100% off insulation costs, and up to $100 off a smart thermostat, plus can access rebates for a suite of energy-efficient small appliances. Business owners who sign up for a no-cost energy assessment may qualify for up to 100% off eligible improvements which may include water-saving measures, LEDs, lighting controls, thermostats, and more.

Step 2: Explore opportunities to make larger energy efficiency upgrades and, if possible, replace fossil fuel-dependent technology with that which relies on electricity. Space heating and water heating equipment are among the highest energy-consuming pieces of equipment in buildings. Adding to the environmental impact of this equipment is the fact that approximately 42% of households in New England rely on delivered fuel, such as oil or propane, for heating, both of which contribute to carbon emissions.

To help you more easily convert to higher-efficiency electric heating and cooling equipment, the Compact and its fellow Mass Save Sponsors offer residential and commercial rebates for cold climate mini-split and central heat pumps. Cold climate heat pumps rely solely on electricity, are up to 70% more efficient than traditional electric resistance heating, and offer the convenience of meeting both heating and cooling needs. Similarly, the Compact also offers incentives, worth up to $600, for residential heat pump water heaters, which offer another great way to decrease your dependency on fossil fuels.

Step 3: Explore even more advanced electrification opportunities. The upgrades listed above are just some of the things you can do to contribute to strategic electrification. Other emerging opportunities include the use of battery storage equipment to store and draw upon energy as needed instead of using a generator, or switching to an electric vehicle in place of a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle. As we collectively transition to an electric grid that increasingly relies on renewables, each switch to electric-powered technology will have an even greater impact on achieving our decarbonization goals. The Compact is doing its part to accelerate this transition to a cleaner grid through its power supply programs, especially its CLC Local Green program that allows customers to match an additional 50% to 100% of their electricity use with locally-generated renewable energy.

Whether you upgrade your fossil fuel-dependent equipment to all-electric equipment, outfit your home or business to conserve energy, or invest in an electric vehicle, each step toward strategic electrification is a step closer to achieving the state’s vision for net-zero communities. The Compact looks forward to working together toward this cleaner energy future.