Tesla files to become an electricity provider in Texas

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Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, unveils a Tesla Energy battery to businesses and utilities during an event held in Hawthorne (Calif.), April 30, 2015. Patrick T. Fallon | Reuters

According to a request filed by Tesla this month with Texas' Public Utility Commission, the company wants to sell electricity directly. This application was filed after Tesla began a large battery build in Angleton (near Houston), and where it plans to connect a 100-MW energy storage system to its grid. Texas Monthly first reported the application submitted by Tesla Energy Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary. Tesla also has several utility-scale energy storage units around the globe. One is located east of Los Angeles. Another is in Monterey, California. Two are in Australia, one in Geelong (Victoria) and one in Adelaide, South Australia. Tesla is not the retailer electricity provider for these systems. Tesla's large batteries are used to support other companies in energy storage, generation and consumption. In February, Texas was hit by a cold snap that left millions without power and water for several days.

Initial blame was given by some officials to the intermittent nature renewable energy. However, the state still relies heavily on fossil fuels. Later, it was discovered that regulators and state legislators, including the Texas Railroad Commission and the Public Utilities Commission, had either ignored or softened the requirements to fix and prevent further vulnerabilities in Texas' electric grid. Experts had recommended that weatherproofing facilities be built and that turbines with proper insulation and heaters are used to produce power. Because Texas is an isolated state, power transmission from the rest of the United States was inaccessible to those who were stuck in the cold. The Texas grid is managed instead by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (or ERCOT), a non-profit group that schedules electricity flow to over 25 million Texas households. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, took aim at ERCOT during the Texas blackout, posting that it was "not earning that" R. Musk's name wasn't listed on the Tesla Energy Ventures application. Ana Stewart, Tesla's director for regulatory credit trading, is at the helm of this subsidiary. CNBC previously reported that Musk's solar panel and electric car company has been able increase its margins through green credit sales over the years. In the second quarter 2020, for example, regulatory credit sales exceeded the company's free liquidity flow, and was more than four times Tesla’s $104 million net profit.

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