The short term solutions that you grudgingly endorse pay dividends NOW and in the future. Upgrading the grid works just like adding a new lane (plus repaving) a highway that's already congested. By the time you finish . . . you've invested billions of dollars and several years (if not decades) in order to tread water.Upgrading the grid would decrease waste in transmission. I wont disagree that compact flouresent bulbs and programable thermostats is the short term solution.
Active solar construction (with local batteries for storage) for home electricity, heating homes through conductive flooring (plus passive solar), conservation through select appliances, intelligent construction, etc.
Every sanitary landfill should produce biomass energy. Every industrial farm should be capable of biomass energy. Both of these facilities are a blight on the land (in my state we have a lot of hog/poultry farms) . . . so why not plop a few windmills at these sites as well?
Research into more effective/efficient transmission is money well spent . . . stringing more transmission lines with current technology is a no win situation . . . unless of course you've got a government contract which guarantees a profit to build them.
Odds are the person paying 10K to be partially off the grid is NOT the same one footing the bill to upgrade 5 wasteful residential HVACs . . . unless of course they happen to be slum lords. I hate to say it but maybe we should make it cost prohibitive to operate homes that waste loads of energy while "encouraging" energy efficient construction. I think people should be allowed to recoup capital costs over a reasonable interval (10 yrs) through energy efficiency and tax incentives . . . adjusted with a progressive tax bracket of course.Is it better to spend $10k to partially take a house of the grid, or to upgrade 5 old wasteful residential HVAC systems? I can tell you which will save more energy.