More than 140 leaders from electric cooperatives across the state met in Raleigh May 29 for Electrify NC, a beneficial electrification (BE) summit. Through presentations from co-op peers as well as a wide range of industry experts, the message was clear: New technology is creating more opportunities to electrify end-use applications and processes, bringing with it new ways for utilities to engage consumers and improve their quality of life. This is in addition to meeting the core criteria of BE, which includes saving consumers money, improving grid flexibility and improving the environment.
“Right now is a time of change. It’s a time of transformation. It’s a time when technology is advancing, and members and communities are expecting more and more from their electric cooperatives,” said Roanoke Electric CEO and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) president Curtis Wynn in closing remarks at the conference. “It ties back to what got us started. Electrification is a part of our DNA. This is what we do. This is what we live and breathe for.”
Sessions throughout the day-long event included panel discussions on:
• The promise and potential of BE;
• Technologies that are making BE more feasible;
• The importance of grid flexibility in BE;
• Public policy and BE adoption, including remarks from Sushma Masemore, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment and State Energy Director at the NC Department of Environmental Quality; and
• Opportunities for BE in NC agribusiness.
Specific initiatives at electric co-ops around the state were a part of the discussions, including grid optimizations efforts, microgrid applications and the development of a statewide electric vehicle charging network.
“I’m really encouraged by the progress overall,” Wynn said. “From what I’ve heard today, this ship is moving, and we’re onboard.”