Tesla applies to become an energy supplier in Texas

The company filed an application with the state's Public Utility Commission in mid-August.

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Tesla Powerpacks at Neoen wind farm in Hornsdale, South Australia September 29, 2017. Picture taken September 29, 2017.     REUTERS/Sonali Paul
Sonali Paul / reuters

When Tesla began building a secretive 100-megawatt energy storage project in Angleton, Texas, a town some 40 miles south of Houston, there were questions about what the company planned to do with the facility. Now we know.

Per an application filed by the company with the state’s Public Utility Commission, Tesla wants to sell electricity directly to consumers in Texas. Tesla Energy Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the automaker, made the move in mid-August, according to Texas Monthly. If approved, the company could start selling electricity to residents as early as November.

Tesla has built utility-scale energy storage projects in various parts of the world, including South Australia and California, but has so far avoided selling electricity stored in those facilities directly to consumers. Instead, it has tended to work with providers by helping them with their storage needs.

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But that was before a cold snap in February left much of Texas without electricity for days on end. When the power grid failed, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who by that point had recently left California for the Lone Star State, took to Twitter to mock the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). “Not earning that R,” he said of the nonprofit group, which manages approximately 90 percent of the Texas power grid. 

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