Electric Co-ops Focus on Electricity’s Benefits

Electric cooperatives have long been advocates of energy efficiency and cost savings for their consumer-members. That continues today as promotions for beneficial electrification come to the forefront. Beneficial electrification is the deployment of electric-powered devices where at least one of the following goals is met without adversely impacting the others: consumer savings, reduced pollution, grid resiliency, improved products and quality of life.

Last year a national Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) was formed. Colorado’s co-op power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, is a leading member of the league, as well as the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Tri-State, along with CREA, which represents Colorado’s electric cooperatives, helped create BEL-CO, the first BEL state chapter. Then Tri-State expanded two of its key staff positions in late 2019 to focus on beneficial electrification.

Matt Fitzgibbon went from relationship manager to beneficial electrification manager, and Shaun Mann Tuyuri is now senior manager of beneficial electrification and research and development at Tri-State.

The title change has “helped us be more effective communicators of beneficial electrification,” said Fitzgibbon, as he noted that the power supplier’s energy efficiency program has always had an “underlying [goal] of beneficial electrification.

“Before in R&D, we were already doing that work in technology development, such as demonstrating heat pumps that work in extreme cold,” Mann Tuyuri said. Now there is “business innovation and how to drive consumer adoption of beneficial electrification.”

“Beneficial electrification is extremely important, especially as we move forward with plans for more renewable energy and a cleaner grid,” Fitzgibbon said.

Cathy Cash is a staff writer at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.