The other method is "net metering." You buy the solar panels or windmills, but your house is still connected to the utility. The power you generate is gets fed into the city power grid. If you don't generate enough to meet your needs, you get the extra you need from the utility. If you produce more than you need, you feed it into the grid for others to use, and the utility pays you for the power. The excess feeds through your meter and runs your meter backwards, thus the term "net metering". With this method, you use the grid as your "storage" so you save the cost of batteries. Of course, without storing the power yourself, when the CUC power goes out, yours does too.
The fact that we have this net metering law opens some huge possibilities for the consumer to bring down the power rates and also to contribute to power generation for other customers. The glitch for us has been that although the law has been passed, the regulations that define the practicalities of implementing the law have yet to be written.
I fired off an email to an undisclosed source close to the issue to find out about the status of the regulations. Here is a summary of the reply I received. It looks like we're getting close.
The net metering regs are being drafted right now. They are a blend of regs from a US green power NGO and 3 or 4 states. The adminstration is committed to making net metering happening, so that the private sector can help CUC meet its customers' needs cost-effectively and reliably. Oil will soon become unaffordable to small markets like the CNMI. We will need the sun, the wind, the ocean and geothermal resources to power our lives.