Leaders from Arizona’s solar power industry have come together to form the Distributed Energy Resources Alliance (DERA), a non-profit trade organization dedicated to the development of distributed energy resources (DER), including solar, battery storage, active demand management, distributed grid services and smart grid solutions for a reliable and sustainable energy supply.

The founding member companies of DERA are: Sunny Energy, Elevation Solar, SouthFace Solar and PV Advanced Concepts. Each company has a board position.

Joseph Cunningham, director of operations for Sunny Energy, serves as DERA’s president, while Tom Harris, a principal with PV Advanced Concepts, is the organization’s executive director.  Clayton Anderson, president of Elevation Solar is the organization’s vice president and Corey Garrison is its treasurer.

DERA is working to find constructive and proactive paths for clean energy development that benefit energy consumers, electric utilities and businesses that provide these grid services. DERA is also engaged in state-level legislative and regulatory issues and forums with the explicit intent of collaborating with all stakeholders willing to work cooperatively toward a clean energy future.

Cunningham said DERA has established some lofty goals.  They are:

• Educate solar, battery storage, energy management and similar companies on the problems they face by continuing to only sell solar.

• Educate consumers on the benefits of adopting a full range of DERs instead of just solar.

• Learn what drives consumer adoption, and what drives consumers away, when considering all DERs.

• Help utility companies develop strategies, rate plans, products, services and incentives to aid in the adoption of a full range of DERs.

• Help technology companies develop products and services for these new opportunities.

“We are starting to help balance DERs of all types on the grid, but we can’t do it alone,” Cunningham explained.  “Other companies also need to recognize the problems of a solar only offering and start adding products that help balance DER integration.  They need to be educated.  Our customers need to be educated.  And utility companies need to realize that we are trying to help mitigate the problems, or better still, help improve the functionality of the grid.”

Harris further explained, “Solar PV (photovoltaics) is considered a DER because they are installed on homes, businesses and as stand-alone systems.  They are a generating resource, meaning that they generate electric energy.  There are other DERs, such as battery storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging, energy and demand management, energy efficiency and more.  These resources are not generating electric energy, but they are helping to manage how it is used.”

Harris also added, “The electric grid and utility generating equipment cannot handle large concentrations of other, distributed, electric generation sources.  Solar PV concentration in Arizona is already at the point of creating problems for the grid and utility companies.  In California, the concentrations are so high that the utilities there pay other states, like Arizona, to take excess energy, mostly in March, April and May.  Because of this, we realize that we must add other DERs to our products and services for the continued sustainability and growth of our businesses.”

DERA will work together with other organizations on matters which are core to between them, including AriSEIA, the long-standing solar industry organization in Arizona. DERA, Arizona State University and AriSEIA are holding a conference on April 13.  The first dedicated DER conference in Arizona, AZ Energy Transformation:  Opportunities for Distributed Energy Resources, is expected to draw participants from Arizona, and across the U.S., to discuss DER business opportunities.

For additional information, visit DERA-AZ.org or call (602) 317-0015.