Is Tesla Becoming a Threat to the World’s Biggest Utilities?


It appears that the California disruption machine intends to take on not only the powerful German auto brands, but the country’s major electric utilities as well.

The electric utility industry is on the verge of a revolution. The traditional utility model, in which energy is generated by a small number of enormous central power plants, is already as outdated as cars that burn fossil fuels. The electrical grid is gradually becoming a more complex, decentralized web of small generating plants—many of them using renewable energy—and stationary storage facilities, collectively known as distributed (or dispatchable) energy resources (DERs).

Tesla is at the forefront of this trend. It sells not only solar panels, but also battery storage systems for residential (Powerwall), commercial (Powerpack) and utility-scale (Megapack) applications. Another piece of the puzzle is Autobidder, a software product that provides “a real-time trading and control platform” to enable independent power producers to make battery assets available to the grid as DERs.

Recently, the company has been taking steps to put this all together, and become “a giant distributed utility.” Last November, Tesla partnered with Octopus Energy to become a retail energy provider in the UK. In August, the company applied to the Texas Public Utility Commission to enter the state’s electricity market as an official retailer.

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