Musk, currently the richest man in the world, has taken to the Lone Star State like a fly to honey — expanding Tesla’s operations in Texas, then himself shacking up in the state, and, recently, moving Tesla’s headquarters to Austin by way of California.
His Texas ventures continue to compound. Last week, the Public Utility Commission approved Tesla subsidiary, Tesla Energy Ventures, to operate in Texas as a Retail Electric Provider (REP).
REPs are companies that purchase electricity from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ wholesale market from generators and sell it to consumers in places where a competitive market exists. Some of the largest in the state include TXU Energy and Reliant Energy. Some places, such as Austin and San Antonio, have municipality-owned power providers.
Tesla has already waded into Texas’ electric industry. After the February blackouts, another Tesla subsidiary, Gambit Energy Storage, announced the construction of 100 megawatt batteries in the Houston area designed to supplement the Southeast Texas grid with large quantities of power available during another blackout. The company also operates in the renewable sphere, selling solar panels and batteries to pair.
Based on the filings, few details are available as to the scale of the company’s plans and how many customers it hopes to service. Much of the filings between the company and the governmental body tasked with lightly regulating it are kept confidential. But its current Tesla customers in the state provide an easily accessible clientele base for the company to initially pursue.
President of Tesla Energy Ventures, Ana Stewart, was reached by phone but declined to comment on the venture by Tesla into Texas’ energy market.
Any discussion surrounding electricity in Texas is steeped in anxiety about what transpired last February. The PUC is set to announce next month its array of policy changes to the ERCOT market, among them how better to incentivize the construction of new generation. Tesla’s entry in this circumstance, however, focuses more on the back end of the power grid with the door open for other opportunities to boot.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.