Electrification offers financial and environmental benefits to utilities
Utilities face several new challenges in today’s energy market, such as balancing grid systems to meet customer demand and attaining government-mandated clean energy goals. Additionally, utilities are confronting the issue of reduced revenue sources due to the greater adoption of energy-efficient equipment and the availability of renewable power sources. Increasingly, utilities are seeking solutions that balance the needs and demands of industry stakeholders, company shareholders, and customers.
Beneficial electrification, which aims to transition equipment and vehicles from fossil fuel sources to electric power, is an emerging opportunity for utilities to address these key industry challenges. Through beneficial electrification, utilities can promote the implementation of electric-powered equipment and technologies to increase sales and delivery revenues. Electrification can also enhance grid flexibility by levelizing the distribution demand curve and allowing utilities to more easily adapt to peak energy demand periods. Further, by moving away from fossil fuels, utilities can support clean energy objectives that a number of state and local governments have adopted or are planning to implement. Based on a recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, it is estimated that full electrification of the U.S. transportation, commercial, and residential sectors would double electricity consumption by 2050, while reducing greenhouse gases by 70% over the same time period.
Prior to launching an electrification effort, a utility should perform advanced distribution analyses to determine optimal regions for electrification strategies and the infrastructure investments necessary to support long-term initiatives. These analyses allow the utility to identify pockets of infrastructure that require immediate attention and better forecast energy demand to address potential future capacity issues. Further, the information will create stronger business cases for infrastructure investments and allow the utility to confidently reinvest future revenue streams generated from electrification.
The adoption of electric-powered equipment and vehicles can be influenced through two primary channels: financial incentives and utility program staff support. Utility-provided incentives can influence residential, commercial, and industrial customers who are considering an electrification project. Additionally, there are options for non-utility funding sources and financing that can spur electrification project implementation. Beyond incentives, utility program staff can support customers throughout the technical assessment, development, and implementation stages of an electrification project.
There are a wide variety of project types and equipment that can comprise a beneficial electrification offering, including but not limited to:
- Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in commercial buildings and at truck stops
- Ground support equipment at airports, transportation hubs, ports, and construction sites including cranes, tractors, carts, and belt loaders
- Electric forklifts used in industrial settings
- Electric Transport Refrigeration Units (e-TRU)
- Agricultural equipment including electric tractors and irrigation pumps
- Commercial and industrial heat pumps
- EV charging stations in residential complexes and homes
- Heat pump technology in residential complexes and homes
Through beneficial electrification, utilities can reverse declining sales and delivery revenues, improve grid flexibility, and support the attainment of clean energy goals. By addressing these issues, utilities will be able to confidently invest in new infrastructure and prepare for the future of the energy market. Leidos has successfully implemented electrification strategies to support these elements at several utilities, including the adoption of EV charging stations and the transition to electrified equipment and vehicles. In addition, our team has performed advanced distribution analyses for utilities to help determine target regions for long-term electrification initiatives.