Beneficial electrification chapter formed in Colorado

Coalition forms league to advance beneficial electrification in Colorado

by Allen Best

A new coalition has been formed in Colorado to replace burning of fossil uses with electricity in buildings, transportation and other end uses.

Members of the new Beneficial League of Colorado include the Colorado Energy Office, the Colorado Rural Electric Association and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. Other members including Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Beneficial electrification by one definition is the application of electricity to end-uses that would otherwise consume fossil fuels where doing so satisfies at least one of following conditions, without adversely affecting the others:

1) save consumers money over time;

2) benefit the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

3) improve product quality or consumer quality of life; or

4) foster a more robust and resilient grid.

The parent organization, the Beneficial Electrification League, was launched nationally in 2018. It has set out to accelerate infrastructure for electric vehicles, promote access to highly efficient electric heating and cooling systems such as heat pumps, deliver rebates for electric equipment such as lawn mowers or leaf blowers.

“As an association of mostly rural electric cooperatives and public power districts, we see this exciting opportunity to coordinate with our founding partners and others as key to sharing the opportunities of the energy transition with our rural and urban neighbors,” said Duane Highley, chief executive of Tri-State, in a press release.

Highley, at the Colorado Rural Electric Associaton conference on Monday, said that Tri-State will be at 50% non-carbon energy by 2023. It is currently at about 30%. Highley and other Tri-State representatives recently told the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that Tri-State intends to comply with new state laws requiring dramatic reductions in carbon emissions by 2030. Highley said that Tri-State intends to be out of coal by then.

“Beneficial Electrification is a tool that will help Colorado meet its energy and climate goals, and we are looking forward to working with Tri-State and other stakeholders to advance innovative solutions for our state,” said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office.

“Replacing polluting fossil fuel equipment with efficient electric alternatives powered by clean electricity is one of the most important and effective opportunities for dealing with the climate crisis,” said Kit Kennedy, senior director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Colorado chapter, which is being called BEL-CO, will  be an open organization seeking to bring together interested researchers, government agencies, members of the public and other stakeholders, including other utilities, to share the benefits of electrification with all Coloradans.

Various developers and jurisdictions have set out to electrify buildings. One of the most prominent is Basalt Vista, an affordable housing project being developed by Roaring Fork Habitat for Humanity with several partners, including Holy Cross Energy and Pitkin County.

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Allen Best