Thanks everybody for your input! That was a great discussion and my first post so thanks for showing me how awesome Permies can be! My partner and I really used your input, mulled it over, and have consequently decided to stay on grid for now. There are a number of reasons for this, mostly owing to the particulars of our situation. Energy prices are expected to keep rising in our area. Our solar system will be financed and will pay for itself in about 8 years. After we finish paying off the loan, its free power until the darn things wear out, warranted for 25 years, likely to last longer. So solar, on-grid or no, makes financial sense for us. Also, the Federal 30% tax credit is still good for the remainder of this year. Furthermore, we plan on putting on a badly needed new metal roof at the same time. This costs more than the solar, will also receive the 30% discount, will add another R-7 insulation to the house, will come with gutters and allow the clean capture of rain water in our greening desert, will increase the value and equity of the house etc. Talk about stacking functions! So rather than choosing between a roof and a battery back-up solar system, we are getting the roof with all of its functions, along with a lower power bill for the next 25 years. I actually probably can't raise the money for the batteries, solar AND the roof. So in the end, it was largely about limited finances.
I have wanted to live off-grid for decades (almost made it happen but that pesky divorce got in the way!). As one of the respondents said, I don't like the idea of the power company having the power to turn off my system at anytime (The word "Power" here has manifold meanings). But in a great downturn, SHTF type situation, as many of you pointed out, knowing how to live without electricity will be a virtue. We want fewer THINGS in our lives anyway. So while we will have solar panels and the energy they provide right up until the hammer falls, we will be simultaneously working on our post-apocalyptic skill set.
Thanks again all!