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Mounting research suggests that electrifying certain parts of the economy – using electric technologies to replace the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas, propane, gasoline and diesel – is necessary to achieve ambitious carbon emissions reduction goals worldwide. This is possible as utilities, including Great River Energy, continue incorporating more carbon free sources of energy into their power supply portfolios. This is often referred to as beneficial or efficient electrification within the utility industry.
Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives encourage end-use members to pursue electric uses that meet at least one of three criteria, without adversely affecting the others: save consumers money, reduce emissions and improve overall efficiency of the electric grid. In addition, consumers may be driven to adopt electric end uses that improve their quality of life, product quality or productivity. Great River Energy also believes that significant greenhouse gas reductions can be realized by electrifying water and space heating in addition to the electrification of the transportation sector. Beneficial electrification efforts coincide with ongoing greenhouse gas reductions from the power sector, and leverages utility investments in carbon-free power supply resources.
In addition to the specific initiatives outlined below, Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives are working to modernize the grid to manage the integration of flexible end-use technologies and variable generation facilities in ways that lower costs for all end use members.
Electric school bus pilot
As part of a pilot project that began in the fall of 2017, some Minnesota students are transported to and from school on an all-electric school bus. This first-of-its-kind opportunity was possible through a collaboration between Schmitty & Sons, Dakota Electric Association and Great River Energy to demonstrate a battery electric school bus in a cold-weather climate as well as on longer suburban and rural routes.
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure
Great River Energy and its member cooperatives helped establish Minnesota’s first electric corridor. Charging infrastructure along Interstate 35 allows electric vehicle owners to reach northern Minnesota with no emissions.
Revolt electric vehicle program
Great River Energy’s member cooperatives offer wind energy at no additional cost to fuel electric vehicles owned by cooperative members through Revolt program. Revolt dedicates wind energy for the life of an electric vehicle.
Great River Energy promotes the efficient use of electricity through programs that shift consumption to the lowest-demand part of the day: the overnight hours. Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives offer electric thermal storage water and space heating. These programs improve the efficiency of the grid and reduce electricity demands during the on-peak hours, while helping to fully utilize inexpensive, and often renewable, energy produced overnight.
While consumers can realize efficiency improvements by adopting electric end uses, Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives continue to pursue opportunities for traditional energy efficiency. Improving efficiency is a key component of beneficial electrification. Electric devices such as appliances, heat pumps and light bulbs are becoming more efficient, furthering the benefits provided by beneficial electrification initiatives.
Jan. 31, 2019