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A Clean Future: Uniting Behind Beneficial Electrification

What if your water heater could function as a backup battery for the electric grid, and your kids rode to school in a clean electric bus that charged overnight, when abundant wind power makes electricity cheaper? What if your air conditioner could also be a heat pump that efficiently warms your home in the winter?

All of these are examples of beneficial electrification, an idea that’s united the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and America’s Electric Cooperatives (NRECA). While we don’t agree on everything, our groups are working together to find ways to make the electric grid cleaner and using clean energy to heat our homes, farm our crops and power our vehicles.

Beneficial electrification offers an exciting opportunity where environmental benefit and economic progress can work together to build the low-carbon economy of the future. 

Blue Bird

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute hosted a Capitol Hill briefing on beneficial electrification last week in Washington, DC that included EPRI (The Electric Power Research Institute), NRDC, NRECA, and the Beneficial Electrification League. Check out the materials and video here.

NRECA represents more than 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, public power districts, and public utility districts in the United States.

Choosing electricity generated from clean resources like wind and solar to heat homesheat water, and power electric vehicles are common residential opportunities. In the commercial and industrial space, selecting electric agricultural pumps, trucks, buses, forklifts, farm equipment, compressors, or cooking equipment are just some of the major opportunities for beneficial electrification.

The NRDC and NRECA helped establish the Beneficial Electrification League and are hosting briefings and stakeholder dialogues for policymakers at the federal and statelevels to share ideas and build support for beneficial electrification. Learn about upcoming events by connecting with the League.

NRDC Expert Blog by Derek Murrow

Republished with permission from the Natural Resources Defense Council's expert blogs.

Pat Remick's picture

Thank Pat for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on March 17, 2019

Pat, Minnesota's Great River Energy is opposing Governor Tim Walz's 100%-clean-energy-by-2050 goal. Cooperatives love talking about 100% renewable electricity; why will they only commit to 50%?

Turns out it's less about clean energy than corporate image. "Electrify Minnesota! The Future is Electric!" shouted the title of their November, 2018 forum sponsored by the Beneficial Electrification League and NRDC. I guess "Electrify Minnesota! The Future is Half Clean, Half Dirty!", a more accurate title, didn't make the cut.

Pat Remick's picture
Pat Remick on March 19, 2019

Thanks, Bob, for your comments. As you may know, NRDC is devoted to tackling the climate crisis. We’re working on an array of efforts, including cleaning up the grid; decarbonizing fuel use in buildings, transportation and industry including through beneficial electrification and renewable fuels; and making energy consumption much more efficient and flexible to match variable wind and solar generation. All are vital for a deeply decarbonized energy system and vibrant economy, as shown in NRDC’s 2050 Pathway report.

We haven’t studied the Minnesota bill and its clean energy goal, but wish policymakers success in their laudable effort to achieve very deep decarbonization. Even with a partly clean grid under Minnesota’s current state goal of reducing carbon pollution 80% by 2050 (which we’d understood GRE supports and is on track for), the environmental benefits of electrification are strong when compared to consumers’ use of fossil fuels. And importantly, there’s great benefit to learning more through experience, to continue to accelerate efforts that are good both for the environment and to meet consumer needs. Of course, going further is great, and we look forward to learning from Minnesota’s clean energy leadership.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on March 19, 2019

"Electrify everything, decarbonize"-- I love this as the mantra. Of course it's overly absolutely (as any slogan will be), but it's a target

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