Old friend Dan Lovejoy (see this, for example) explains why distributed generation isn’t the cure-all everyone says it is:
People are going to be putting in their own solar panels left and right, which will definitely cut their power bills. But it won’t necessarily help with reliability. While photovoltaic (PV) solar power is getting cheaper and cheaper, battery prices are falling more slowly. And you really need a battery, a smart inverter which functions as a voltage source (if your battery does not) and solar PV to weather even a short outage. That’s right, solar panels on your house don’t work during a power outage. Crazy, I know, but you need all of the equipment I listed above to island from the grid in the event of an outage. (Actually, you don’t need solar at all if you have charged batteries during a short outage. But it makes sense to couple batteries with solar.)
(Emphasis added.) This is the first use I’ve seen of “island” as a verb.
Now in our latest Oklahoma ice storm, you wouldn’t have fared very well, even with a great solar/battery/inverter system because the days are short and it was mostly raining. But, you ask, what about wind power? Residential scale wind produces very little power, so that wouldn’t power much more than your TV. Also, it wasn’t windy over Thanksgiving.
Hardly renewable if it isn’t newable in the first place, am I right?
Still, in the absence of Cool New Stuff, people are screaming for all the power lines to be buried. I’m guessing I could get my line relocated underground for about $1000. The local utility has 800,000 customers, probably not all of whom can get their lines relocated underground for about $1000.