Elon Musk’s plan to “operate as a massive distributed utility” is taking shape.
Tesla first tested a “virtual power plant” in California, inviting owners of Powerwall home batteries to sell electricity back to the grid during peak times to help mitigate brownouts. Soon after, the automaker expanded the initiative to Australia and Japan, and it’s now coming to Texas — with a twist.
On Thursday, the company announced Tesla Electric, an electric plan available only in parts of Texas where retail choice exists, such as Houston and Dallas.
The product transforms Tesla into a retail electric provider in Texas, allowing Powerwall owners to sell some excess electricity back to the grid through Tesla.
Most importantly, this product is only available by invitation.
If you own one of Tesla’s large batteries and live in a deregulated area of Texas, you will “see a banner appear on your Powerwall home page in the Tesla app,” according to Tesla.
Tesla Electric expands on Tesla’s vision of expanding far beyond automaking; however, other automakers are also experimenting with this concept, including GM, which is collaborating with solar seller SunPower, and Toyota, which announced today that it is collaborating with a Texas utility.
This year has seen some highs and lows for Tesla’s energy business. Tesla announced in July that its solar business had had its best quarter in several years. Four months later, Electrek reported that Tesla had recently canceled some of its solar reservations and laid off some employees in the department.