The last couple of weeks, we focused on the benefits of solar on both a residential and municipal level. This week, the South Portland Sustainability Office has beneficial electrification on the brain. Beneficial electrification – including sola r– helps us achieve our climate action goals while also ensuring home comfort, affordability and efficiency.

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One Climate Future, the city’s joint climate action and adaptation plan with the city of Portland, sets ambitious goals, primarily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, which beneficial electrification will significantly advance. In fact, the plan identifies beneficial electrification as a key strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with our existing buildings, which comprise the largest portion of our building stock, and therefore the largest portion of building emissions.

With the majority of South Portland homes relying on fuel oil for heating, beneficial electrification will dramatically reduce related emissions and save homeowners money in the process.

What is beneficial electrification (and why is it beneficial)?

Beneficial electrification is exactly what it sounds like: electrification that benefits both people and the planet. Beneficial electrification is the process of transitioning from fossil fuel-based combustion technologies to electric appliances and systems – such as hot water heat pumps, air source heat pumps and solar – that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs for residents.

Electric vehicles are also encompassed in beneficial electrification. The average electric vehicle costs 50 percent less per mile to charge than filling up a traditional gasoline-powered car, and electric vehicles emit zero tailpipe emissions. In addition to reduced energy costs, beneficial electrification also increases comfort and safety for residents by providing reliable, consistent heating and cooling through hyper energy-efficient electric systems.


Though Maine’s grid electricity is fairly clean right now, beneficial electrification will reduce greenhouse gas emissions exponentially as Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard drives the state to source more and more electricity from renewable sources, with a commitment that 80 percent of our electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

Coffee & Climate: Beneficial electrification

Want to learn more about beneficial electrification? Join us March 11 from 9 to 10 a.m. for March’s Coffee & Climate: beneficial electrification edition. The cities of Portland and South Portland will be joined by Joel Rosenberg from Rewiring America to discuss how we can electrify and improve the efficiency of our homes through heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, weatherization/insulation, solar, and electric vehicles/electric vehicle charging. This is also an opportunity to ask questions about Efficiency Maine rebates.

To register for the free event, visit

Brew your coffee and log on to join us. We’ll see you there.

Stay tuned

We will be talking about beneficial electrification all March long. Check back each week to learn more about different systems and appliances that can transition our buildings towards beneficial electrification.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Mia Ambroiggio is a Greater Portland Council of Governments Resilience Corps Fellow serving with the Sustainability Office. She can be reached at

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