Electric Co-ops Get Charged Up at the Arizona Beneficial Electrification Summit

By Tom Polikalas, Director of Western States Engagement for Beneficial Electrification League

Beneficial Electrification Summit attendees saw electric products ranging from heat pumps to electric vehicle charging to this electric school bus. Photos courtesy of Beneficial Electrification League

Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association Inc. (GCSECA) is always on the search for new ways to help its member co-ops better serve homeowners, businesses, and other member-owners in their respective service territories.

GCSECA participated in and promoted the inaugural Arizona Beneficial Electrification Summit on November 10 in Tempe. The event was coordinated by the Beneficial Electrification League, a nonprofit organization working across the country to accelerate the use of cost-effective electric end-uses in homes and buildings, transportation, and industries.

Nearly 100 attendees representing utilities, nonprofits, governments, and other stakeholders gathered to talk about beneficial electrification at the summit. One of the purposes of the summit was to provide networking opportunities and business connections in the electric product space.

“It’s incredible to see such a diverse group of organizations all talking about their plans to use electrification to benefit the future,” says Keith Dennis, event organizer, and Beneficial Electrification League president. “There is so much talent in the state on the topic of electrification. It was truly encouraging and a positive meeting where panels of experts, operators, and governmental representatives took us through how they are thinking on electrification.”

The meeting featured speakers from a variety of Arizona’s electric utilities, state and local government officials, vendors, and the business community.

Trico Electric Cooperative CEO Brian Heithoff, a local heat pump vendor, and Trico employees Chelsea Morrison and Yoli Lazos were some of the 100 stakeholders participating in the Arizona Beneficial Electrification Summit.

Brian Heithoff from Trico Electric Cooperative spoke on the opening panel and explained how cooperatives across the state are preparing for more electrification to benefit members and the grid and environment. The consensus among the group was opportunities abound in the electric sector.

Attendees had the option to ride on and drive an electric school bus, see a retrofit antique electric vehicle, play with hefty electric tools and learn how electric vehicle chargers work.

The Beneficial Electrification League— co-founded in 2018 with support of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association—has convened stakeholders at meetings across the country as the federal government has begun investing billions of dollars into the electric sector.

2 flagship programs of BEL are its Electric School Bus Initiative, which helps cooperatives to access funds for electric school buses; and its Weatherization/Electrification Together Initiative, which pairs energy-efficiency improvements in homes with new electric technologies that save consumers money and provide revenue to electric utilities.

“The feedback from the event was incredibly positive,” Keith says. “Stay tuned for Electrify AZ 2023.”