Now come the first stirrings of what may be the most telling sign of this shift from hardcore to hybrid: people who are both middle of the road and off the grid. Across the US some 185,000 households have switched from the local power company to their own homegrown, renewable energy.
The fastest-growing segment of this population - their ranks are doubling each year - isn't doing a full Kaczynski. Sure, these folks are slapping solar panels on the roof and erecting the occasional wind turbine, but they're staying connected to the grid, just to be safe. And in many cases, they're operating as mini-utilities, selling excess electricity back to the power company. Just as their cars aren't kludgy and their food isn't flavorless, their homes aren't drafty or dimly lit. Call them hygridders. And look for them soon in a neighborhood near you. Because - trendmeisters, take note - hygrid is the new Prius.
Selling electricity has been going on for a while, especially in California, where the rebates and net metering laws makes installing grid-tied systems fairly straightforward. Home Power magazine has articles on how to set up a grid-tied solar system. From what I understand, you don't actually receive cash for the electricity, rather you are given power "credits" which can be used when you need power from the grid.
[by Justin Thomas]