A rising trend in the utility industry is beneficial electrification. While not a new concept, it is experiencing a resurgence as generation of electric energy become less carbon intensive. Historically, utilities used electrification or load building programs to even out their load curve by increasing nighttime energy use or by encouraging new kWh sales to increase revenues. As we are seeing today, renewable energy generation is beginning to surpass its fossil fuel counterparts. Program designers see this as an opportunity to further reduce carbon emissions by electrifying fossil fueled technologies with renewable sourced energy. The key elements to electrification programs are that the end use customer saves both money on their energy bills and their emissions are reduced.
Electric vehicles are currently the most popular approach to electrification today. Other technologies such as high efficiency air source heat pumps, heat pump water heaters and industrial drying processes are being promoted. While customer bill and emission savings are important, customer comfort and convenience are just as important considerations. If customers are not satisfied with the performance of the new systems, they are less likely to keep it or favorably refer it to friends and family. This is why incentive payments alone may not be sufficient to completely transform these markets. It is likely customers may have never had an electric vehicle or heat pump. Customer service and education efforts will be crucial to ensure that they have a positive experience with the new technology.
Additionally, program results such as emission reductions or other indicators will need to be monitored. Will this require new more complex IT systems? The answer is “No”. Products such as eTRACK+ and eTRM can be configured to either capture or calculate the environmental impacts of electrification programs. These tracking tools can also tie to other customer information systems ensuring you have a full view of the consumer experience.
Written by – Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 40 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.