Elon Musk's Tesla Has Filed to Supply Power to Texas

Potentially setting it up for a saving throw during blackouts.
Brad Bergan
CEO Tesla Elon Musk.Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

You-know-who wants to sell power to the lone-star state.

One of the subsidiary companies of Elon Musk's Tesla applied to become an electricity retail provider in the state of Texas, according to recent filings placed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas and initially reported by Texas Monthly.

And, there's a chance that homes with solar panels could sell back their excess power to Tesla.

Elon Musk's Tesla subsidiary is building utility-scale batteries

The nascent subsidiary's application to the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) didn't explicate on details, it declared assets of roughly $1 million as of mid-August, in addition to its goal of selling renewable energy credits. The Tesla subsidiary also said it generates renewable energy credits in Texas by virtue of its existing infrastructure. And if the application receives approval, this would mark a significant expansion of the company's reach in the lone star state since it moved there in 2020. As of writing, Musk's surging empire has drastically changed the SpaceX center at Boca Chica from a sleepy, isolated town, into a busy launch site for cutting-edge spacecraft. Musks' empire is also building utility-scale batteries close to Austin, and even broke ground near the same city for an electric vehicle factory.

And, if the Tesla subsidiary's application is approved, the electric car company's brand recognition might serve as a crucial advantage over competitors in the electric retail market of Texas, which as of writing includes more than 100 companies. But in Tesla's case, it reportedly told state regulators of its plans to construct two gigantic, 250-megawatt batteries, with one placed outside of Houston, and the other near Austin. Electricity could be drawn from either of these, or Tesla home batteries, according to a report from MarketWatch. Texans with solar panels installed on their homes might even have the option to sell excess power to Tesla's grid.

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Tesla could position itself to make a saving throw in future blackouts

Tesla had hoped to enter Texas' deregulated power market at an earlier time, but the widespread blackouts that followed the winter storms in February of this year, which tore through the power markets with the ferocity of an EF5 tornado and caused wind turbines to fail, leaving the state with a hefty cost of $10 billion that several providers like Brazos Electric Power Cooperative were unable to pay. Such environmental crises are likely to rise in frequency due to the increasing veracity of climate change. And, knowing CEO Musk's penchant for Twitter drama, it's possible he could capitalize on such emergency scenarios with unconventional solutions. In fact, we've already seen signs that this could already be on his mind.

In March of this year, Elon Musk's Tesla started construction on a battery that can add 16,000 homes' worth of electricity to the state's power grid. Initially designed as a "secret" super-battery, it was developed to hold roughly 100 megawatts of power, which would mean this could power roughly 16,400 homes. Crucially, the super-battery will charge from Texas' power grid when energy prices are low, and then discharge that stored energy when a shortage happens. Of course, this super-battery alone wouldn't cover a state-wide (or even city-wide) blackout in Texas, but, if Tesla's subsidiary receives approval on its application, it may find itself in a place to make a saving throw when the conventional power grid experiences future system-wide failures.

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