Beneficial electrification is a new term in the electric industry. It refers to the replacement of direct fossil fuel use (e.g., propane, heating oil, gasoline) with electricity in a way that reduces overall emissions and energy costs. While there are many such opportunities within a home or business, I think electric vehicles are gradually moving to the top of the beneficial electrification list.

At Cherryland, we have had an all-electric Chevrolet Bolt in our vehicle pool for a couple of years now. Recently, with the retirement of an aging gas-powered vehicle, we decided to put the Bolt into regular daily use by assigning it to the Members Services Department.

To replace the Bolt in our vehicle pool, we looked at other available electric vehicles (EVs) and found that the Tesla Model 3 was within our budget parameters. So, we leased an all-wheel-drive version with a long-range (400+ miles) battery system.

While Tesla doesn’t produce cars in Michigan, its vehicles are built in the United States. Tesla models are also at the top of the list when it comes to the EVs our members are asking about. Having one in our vehicle pool, which is utilized by many employees, will be a great way to answer these questions with firsthand experience in all types of weather conditions.

Our longest trips for meetings and legislative issues take us to Lansing and Grand Rapids. Tesla has a charging infrastructure that will allow us to use the car without a worry of where we can charge it. The statewide charging infrastructure for the Chevrolet Bolt is still a work in progress, which makes it better suited to local daily driving.

You will soon see the car out and about, wrapped in Cherryland red. We will be loud and proud as we attempt to generate conversation about and interest in the coming generations of EVs from all manufacturers.

After the obvious environmental benefits of driving without fossil fuels and being a go-to resource on new technology, our goal at your cooperative is also to increase our energy sales. When sales go up, we have more kilowatt-hours to spread our costs over. This helps keep costs down for every member. As an added bonus, Cherryland’s electricity is 62% carbon-free. This means charging your EV can improve the air quality, while the added meter spin also helps keep prices stable.

EV options will continue to grow. In coming years, you will see more and more of them in the fleet of red vehicles running around our service territory. We may be on the very early end of this new era, but we are going to embrace the change and help lead the way for as long as it takes. I am hopeful that by doubling the EVs in our fleet today, it will open the door for more members to have an all-electric mindset in their homes and garages.