Elon Musk’s Tesla is looking beyond electric vehicles, solar panels and energy storage and wants to now supply electricity directly to customers, according to an application filed with Texas electricity regulators earlier this month. Energy Choice Matters first reported on the application.
The application, filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas on August 16, is a request to become what’s called a “retail electric provider” (REP) under its subsidiary Tesla Energy Ventures. On the deregulated, idiosyncratic Texas power market, REPs generally purchase wholesale electricity from power generators and sell it to customers. More than 100 REPs currently compete on the open market.
The company also filed separate applications for several utility-scale batteries in the Lone Star state: a 250-megawatt battery situated near its Gigafactory outside Austin, and a 100 MW separate project outside Houston. These projects are unrelated to the company’s efforts to become an electric provider, but taken as a whole, they reveal an ambitious roadmap for Tesla’s energy businesses.
Imagine: Tesla could not only sell electricity to customers, but it could also broker customers selling their excess energy — generated from Tesla Powerwall or Solar panel products, of course — back to the grid. It’s certainly one way to fulfill Musk’s vision of turning every home into a distributed power plant.
The latest request to the PUC comes just six months after an unprecedented winter storm shut down large parts of Texas’ power grid for days, leaving millions without power during a string of sub-freezing days. A handful of REPs shut down after the storm, which jammed wholesale electricity prices up to $9,000 per megawatt-hour (the seasonal average is around $50).
Musk, who moved many operations to Texas from California, including SpaceX’s sprawling facility in Boca Chica, criticized the state’s grid operator on Twitter at the time:
.@ERCOT_ISO is not earning that R
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 17, 2021
He said the company was not “earning that R” – referring to the R in the acronym, which stands for Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
Tesla Energy Ventures told PUC regulators that it would use Tesla’s existing energy division to help drive sales, including leveraging the company’s mobile app and website. “Specifically, [Tesla Energy Ventures] will target its existing customers that own Tesla products and market the retail offer to customers through the mobile application and Tesla website,” the application says. “In addition to the Tesla mobile application and Tesla website, the applicant’s existing ‘Tesla Energy Customer Support’ organization will be trained to provide support and guidance to customers in customer acquisition efforts.”
Ana Stewart is listed as president of Tesla Energy Ventures. She’s been with Tesla since 2017 as the director of regulatory credit trading. Prior, she worked at Tesla-acquired SolarCity.
The application is listed under docket number 52431.