The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) describes Distributed Energy (DE) as "...a variety of small, modular power-generating technologies that can be combined with load management and energy storage systems to improve the quality and/or reliability of the electricity supply. They are ‘distributed' because they are placed at or near the point of energy consumption, unlike traditional ‘centralized' systems, where electricity is generated at a remotely located, large-scale power plant and then transmitted down power lines to the consumer."
Practical Solutions / Developing the Process
In practice, a typical DE installation in unincorporated Maricopa County will consist of a rooftop solar or a small ground mount solar array on either a residential or commercial building or property; however, the generally accepted parameters for DE could also include small, stand-alone solar arrays that are not associated with any other use of the property. For purposes of administering the Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance, such a system might be considered "utility-scale" rather than "grid-connected" even though it might be considered "Distributed" in the common sense. If your proposed project meets the Maricopa County Zoning Ordinance (MCZO) (PDF) definition of "Utility-Scale," please follow the process outlined under Utility-Scale Overview. If your project meets MCZO the definition of "Grid-Connected" or "Off-Grid," please follow the process outlined under either Residential Solar or Commercial Solar as appropriate.