A Nonprofit Energy 
Research Organization

The Promise of Sustainability

The development and deployment of DERs is expected to be a significant trend in California, and eventually throughout the US.  DERs could include any or all of the following: renewable on-site generation technologies (e.g. PVs, fuel cells, small-scale wind, geothrmal), active load control systems, smart inverters, smart thermostats, electric vehicles, batteries and other storage technologies,  extensive communications capability, and real-time analytical and control capability. DERs could be deployed at the customer level, or in support of microgrids and other customer aggregation techniques at the neighborhood and community scales.  DERs could interact extensively with the local utility grid, allowing system owners to benefit from emerging ancillary services markets, and other tariffs designed to encourage cooperation between the DERs and the grid.  Alternatively, if the cost of remaining on the traditional grid becomes too high in either economic or reliability terms, or if it simply becomes too complex and annoying, home and business owners could, individually or in organized groups, disconnect from the grid while maintaining their own  sources of economic, safe, reliable, and environmentally-sound electricity.

Existing renewable energy technology is already considered by many experts to be cheaper and more reliable than utility-supplied power.  Storage is reliable, but with costs that while high today, are rapidly declining. Thus, utility customers are on the verge of being able to combine renewable power generation with storage and control technologies to significantly reduce or eliminate their power-related carbon footprint, lower their energy costs, increase their power supply reliability, and protect themselves from the myriad of events that cause outages on the larger utility grid.