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In part 1 we looked at the current state of SRP and APS power in Phoenix.  The basics; add on fees for solar customers to force similar grid maintenance costs to standard electricity customers.  With the new fees, increasing electricity rates and uncertainty of future costs the most stress free future is 1 of 2 solutions;

  1. smart grid system (Germany is really pioneering the way here)
  2. getting off the grid

future power grid

A wholly integrated smart grid really is the best overall solution in an ideal world.  This type of system integrates a variety of sustainable power sources, storage types and smart controls to create a robust, low cost, low risk and integrated grid system.  Unfortunately this could be a really long way out in most major US cities.

solar panel cost

The other alternative to a more peaceful state of mind is getting off the grid altogether.  We are thrilled with all the interest on how to create net-positive energy homes.  Solar panel costs have plummeted in recent years, making net positive energy a no brainer if your roof and home design will accommodate enough panels.    Many people talk about a dream future state where they can cut ties to the gird and live in their own virtuous energy cycle.  The last missing piece has been a well designed energy storage system to avoid the common “crazy hippie” toxic, lead acid batter closet.

Tesla's newest product "Powerwall" is unveiled on stage in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, April 30, 2015. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is trying to steer his electric car company's battery technology into homes and businesses as part of an elaborate plan to reshape the power grid with millions of small power plants made of solar panels on roofs and batteries in garages. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Tesla’s least well kept secret in Powerwall is now the first of these missing battery storage solutions.  In typical Tesla fashion they’ve not only priced the battery to where it makes sense but also made it beautiful.  You will want to hang this battery on your wall as art!  And with the Tesla Gigafactory underway, battery prices are expected to drop another 30% in the next few years.  (2017 update) Read a real life review of the second generation Tesla Powerwall here.

With fossil fuel subsidies at 4 to 6 times that of renewables we are still seeing new technology start to out compete fossil fuels.  That’s amazing and something most haters of renewables don’t know or won’t tell you.  Over the next decades this transition only gets stronger as the full cost of extracting, delivering, and protecting fossil fuels continues to increase.  Renewable energy and in-fill+off-grid is here and it’s only going to get better and less expensive.

VALI is now in the process of creating the first in-fill+off-grid home in Arizona (at least that we know of).  We started with designing a home optimized for solar power in our case study home.  The basics are; energy efficiency, low heating and cooling loads and stable temperatures throughout the day.  This combination offers a ton of flexibility in future options without a complicated owners manual or secrete launch codes.  A future proof home if you will.  Adding a small solar and battery system lets an entire house transition off the grid and into self sufficiency and we like the feel of that.

So there you have it.  The future of housing, here today.  In-fill+off-grid coming to Phoenix very soon.