Why are Californians going off the grid?

Unreliable utility companies and changing energy costs are pushing residents to build their own energy systems.

Going off the grid used to be reserved for that outdoorsy high school friend who read Into the Wild a few too many times.

But in California, going off the grid is having a bit of a moment.

According to The New York Times, residents building new homes are increasingly choosing to build their own systems rather than connect to the grid.

Why?

Some reasons include more frequent power outages, soaring electricity costs, and wildfires caused by utility companies.

Naturally, costs play a prominent role:

  • Prices for solar panels have dropped below $4/watt, from ~$11.40/watt in 2000
  • Lithium-ion batteries are cheaper and lower maintenance than traditional lead acid batteries

There’s also a mounting fear that energy costs will keep rising due to Russia’s war against Ukraine, and extreme weather events that damage aging electricity infrastructure.

But going off-grid…

… isn’t always the cheaper option upfront. Installing new power lines to connect to the grid can cost $20k-$78k, while building an off-grid system can cost $35k-$100k.

It’s also not for the faint of heart. If something goes wrong — especially out in the California wilderness — you could be very much on your own.

If that, or the movie version of Into the Wild doesn’t scare you away, check out Primal Survivor. It shares resources on how to go off-grid, including The “Oh Crap!” guide to off-grid sewage and septic systems.

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