Direct Gain Consulting, based in Stone Ridge, New York, is a consortium of senior industry consultants who have come together to pursue highly selective projects that advance the renewable energy industry, create more resilient companies, communities and energy systems, and enhance community energy security.
DGC’s team includes a former NREL chief and a particle physicist turned solar installer, along with an architect, a grid security expert, an industrial designer, an award-winning nonfiction writer, a quality lab director and a roster of successful energy entrepreneurs distributed widely around the U.S. According to CEO John Easoz, “We didn’t form to do one thing — we formed to do the most exciting things we could find, beyond our individual niches and capabilities, to advance technologies that matter.”
The Company’s mission is to scale up the use of solar and other renewable energy technologies dramatically in strategic markets, and advance these emerging energy industries beyond the era of assured subsidies. DGC is initially focused primarily on the large-scale deployment of photovoltaic (PV) systems. However, its partners’ experience and networks allow DGC to serve the entire renewable energy sector. DGC’s partners have been involved in solar electric, solar thermal, wind, biomass, waste-to-energy, natural gas, and co-generation projects in a wide variety of regulatory climates.
Direct Gain’s current project focus is a program called RE-START, which brings the company into the service of the energy storage community in New York. The goal of the RE-START program is to create a major network of solar installations on critical businesses and community services including gas stations, bank ATMs, food stores, health clinics and emergency service providers. A joint initiative of the University at Albany and DGC, RE-START will utilize bankable, off-the-shelf technology in its initial stages and then expand to demonstrate newer technologies in energy and materials as they emerge from New York’s innovation ecosystem. While providing emergency backup, the network will demonstrate currently available solar and storage technologies and allow for the testing of next-generation technologies including those under development by University faculty.
Direct Gain is focusing on expanded value for the more strategic locations and clients whose resilience can make the greatest difference in local emergency response. While aiming for scale - at least 10 MW in the pilot region of New York’s Hudson Valley and Capitol District - the company is offering custom-designed renewable energy and battery storage installations, coupled with efficient natural gas backup systems, as part of a package that also includes emergency planning for small business clients and preparedness information for the communities they serve.
Initial RE-START installations will be able to demonstrate storage technologies, along with commercial and emerging PV systems and components including portable arrays and advanced inverters. DGC encourages colleagues including NY-BEST members to bring them demonstration proposals.
Direct Gain plans to showcase the potential of these technologies, first, in an advanced, solar-powered commercial building owned by DGC partner Rick Alfandre, located on Main Street in New Paltz. The building is near the State University, and is home to Alfandre Architecture as well as several other businesses. The site is ready to serve as a highly visible point of illumination in power outages. The solar-powered building has had zero electric bills in its first four months of operation and is structurally designed for resilience. As Alfandre notes, “Resilience is not just about technology - as we know in architecture and construction, it’s a property of the whole system, including the needs and awareness of the users."
The customized nature of RE-START results in a more complex business value proposition, but also one that brings greater benefit to its stakeholders than turn-key energy systems alone. That includes the opportunity to demonstrate emerging technologies and monitor their performance. An early believer in that aspect of RE-START was the SUNY Research Foundation, which provided seed funding as an investment in the business partnerships planned for its Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (E-TEC). U Albany’s technical capabilities include planning for deep penetration of renewables in the electric grid, cyber-security and energy links, and extreme weather prediction, creating a natural alliance of experts linked with real-world solutions.
DGC’s team brings expertise in the disciplines of renewable energy, technology commercialization and financing, project management and community planning. This diversity of expertise enables the firm to offer assistance to companies, communities and projects. Direct Gain is dedicated to helping to establish renewable energy technology in the mainstream marketplace by providing hands-on support for the innovators who are making a difference in the renewable energy industry.