Tesla eyes electricity retail business in Texas

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Tesla has filed an application with the Texas Public Utility Commission to become a retail electricity provider in the state.

In what would appear to be Tesla’s further ambition in the energy sector alongside battery storage, solar rooftops and electric vehicles, the company now plans to sell electricity directly to consumers.

Through a newly established subsidiary Tesla Energy Ventures, the company has applied to supply the ERCOT service area, which encompasses about 26 million customers across three-quarters of the land area of Texas, including the urban load centres of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin, as well as most of West Texas, portions of the Panhandle and the Rio Grande Valley.

The president of the new company is Ana Stewart, an energy analyst with trading experience with former positions in Direct Energy, DTE Energy Trading and SolarCity. Since the latter’s takeover by Tesla, she has held the post of Director, Regulatory Credit Trading, responsible for Tesla’ global portfolio of regulatory credits.

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Other top executives include Rohan Ma, an energy economist and analyst and currently treasurer of Tesla Ventures, and Simon Wardell, Tesla’s Senior Manager Business Operations for Asia Pacific, who has extensive electricity retail experience in Australia.

Few details are available of the proposed new business so far, apart from – presumably initially at least – that the company will target existing customers that own Tesla products with acquisition via its mobile app and website.

Tesla Energy Ventures will manage its forecasting, leveraging the forecasting tools and capabilities in place to support its utility-scale battery storage system in ERCOT as well as its retail offerings and virtual power plant programmes operating in various parts of the world.

Scheduling will be managed by Engie Energy Marketing, which is active across all the US electricity markets.

Although not specified, presumably also the company will supply primarily if not totally renewable energies, with Tesla Energy Operations – of which Tesla Energy Ventures is the subsidiary – to buy and submit renewable energy credits on its behalf. With its existing solar generation assets, Tesla also generates its own renewable energy credits that are eligible in the state, according to the filing.

Texas is turning into a major ‘hub’ for Tesla. CEO Elon Musk has made the state his current home, an automotive manufacturing gigafactory is under construction outside Austin and SpaceX rocket development and launch facilities also are in Texas.

Highly competitive energy supply costs could go a long way to advancing these energy-intensive activities.