Tesla has launched a new service for energy suppliers in Texas this week that allows select local residents to sell excess energy back to the grid with Powerwall backup batteries. To qualify, residents must live in areas that allow shopping choice — Tesla’s site specifically lists the Dallas and Houston metro areas — and for now, they must wait for an invitation to join through the Tesla app.
Those who join the new Tesla Electric service become part of an automated system that sells energy from owners’ Powerwalls to the grid and vice versa when most feasible. And when the electricity grid is taken off, Tesla offers compensation from renewable energy sources.
This is as Texas leaves behind a summer heat wave and is dealing with an expansion in crypto mining that caused the state to break its record peak power output with more than 78 gigawatts of electricity. The state’s grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), asked residents in July to conserve power at the time, and Tesla helped with that message by sending notifications to Tesla owners across the state to avoid peak charging. In October the board of ERCOT unanimously approved a pilot project that allowed Tesla to continue with its VPP.
Tesla Electric in Texas is the latest development in the company’s quest to build virtual power plants (VPPs), including projects such as the 250-megawatt plant in Australia, built in 2018. Another plant in Japan, which Tesla began building in 2021 building powers homes on Miyako-jima Island with over 300 Powerwalls.
A more recent attempt at virtual power plant is Tesla’s current partnership with California utility PG&E. That deal was set up to draw power from participating Powerwall owners in times of emergency or major power shortages. Powerwall owners who choose to not only help prevent power outages in their surrounding communities, they also earn $2 per kilowatt-hour consumed during those events.