Beneficial Electrification (BE) is the process of replacing customer technologies fueled by fossil-based sources with electricity from renewable sources. With the increasing penetration of renewable energy on the grid, these initiatives aim to increase the use of electricity as a clean and efficient energy source for various end-uses like transportation, heating, cooling, and industrial processes. Electrification not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it can enhance energy security while lowering energy costs for consumers and businesses. Municipal utilities and cooperatives are well-positioned to implement BE programs in their service territories, as they have more flexibility and autonomy than investor-owned utilities and can also leverage their close relationships with their customers and communities to promote BE and overcome potential barriers to adoption.
A typical BE program could offer incentives, rebates, or financing options to customers who purchase or install electric vehicles, electric vehicle supply equipment, heat pumps, water heaters, or other electric appliances. As part of the incentive program, consumer outreach campaigns with workshops, webinars, newsletters, or social media educate customers on the benefits and opportunities of electrification. However, launching a BE program is not a simple task. It requires careful planning, coordination, and execution of complex projects that sometimes involve multiple stakeholders and technologies. A BE program can pose significant challenges with the need to manage customer enrollments and applications. Further, before these electric technologies are installed, a customer’s electric service may need to be upgraded to accommodate the new loads and the distribution network itself must be studied to determine if any modifications are necessary to accept the new technologies. These investigations will require data to be collected from several customer and distribution information systems and analyzed to determine the system’s impact.
To meet these challenges, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives need a robust and flexible tool that can help them manage their electrification programs effectively and efficiently. This is where Business Process Management Systems (BPMS) come in. A BPMS can help municipal utilities and electric cooperatives to streamline and standardize their electrification workflows, from planning to execution to evaluation. It can integrate and coordinate its electrification activities with other business functions, such as customer service, billing, engineering, and operations. Using a BPMS to manage their electrification programs, can help reduce errors, delays, and redundancies in work processes, resulting in faster delivery and lower costs. Also, a BPMS can help simplify customer engagement and communication in electrification programs, which results in higher satisfaction rates.
Electrification programs are both a technical challenge and a strategic opportunity for municipal utilities and cooperatives to guide the future of clean energy in their communities. To increase the likelihood of a successful program, a BPMS such as eTRACK+ should be used. eTRACK+ is a flexible, scalable platform that seamlessly transfers information between customers and utility internal work groups. BE programs will provide multiple benefits to the customers and communities served by municipal utilities and cooperatives, by enhancing grid reliability and resilience, and contributing to environmental and social goals.
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.