Jan 16, 2014
When SolarCity and Tesla announced last monththat they are teaming up to offer battery backup for residential solar PV systems, they generated much excitement and a disproportionate amount of press. From Greentech Media to the New York Times, stories abound about how the union of these two companies heralds the next stage in the evolution of distributed energy resources. Yet solar-plus-storage actually has been around for decades. In fact, it kickstarted the solar industry in the early 1980s. A bunch of marijuana "farmers" in Northern California who weren't connected to the grid needed a way to get electric lights for their grow operations. A young hippie stumbled upon an ARCO solar panel at a consumer electronics show, founded AEE Solar soon after, and started powering off-grid homes with solar panels and car batteries. His customers always paid with cash.