Tesla Approved in Texas to Pilot Two Virtual Power Plants

Tesla Approved in Texas to Pilot Two Virtual Power Plants

As Tesla’s energy business continues to grow, backup power generation will remain at the center of future developments. In recent weeks, Texas residents who have a Tesla Powerwall and solar panels gained the opportunity to be a part of a backup power pilot program, which lets users get money for providing extra electricity back to the state’s electrical grid.

Above: Tesla Supercharger stalls (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).

Tesla gained approval in Texas to debut two Virtual Power Plant pilot programs, as seen in a press release from the Public Utility Commission of Texas in recent weeks (via CNET). The approval lets Tesla Powerwall owners re-sell electricity generated by solar back to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s (ERCOT’s) electrical grid, creating what is effectively a giant distributed battery during times of peak use or emergency blackouts.

The news comes after a number of Texas residents were able to use their solar power and Powerwalls during the 2021 blizzard and accompanying power crisis to keep their homes running. In recent months, the state of Texas also registered Tesla Electric, which is the company’s own utility program, and customers of the offshoot are eligible to participate.

Now, not unlike pilot programs held in California, Texas residents will be able to make money from generating power and selling it back to the grid, in what Tesla calls a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). Tesla has gained approval for two VPP programs for those with Tesla Powerwalls and solar panels, and the company is expected to gain approval for six others down the road.

The new approval for VPPs was also celebrated recently by Commissioner Will McAdams, who notes the program’s benefit to the state of Texas.

"Small energy resources found in homes and businesses across Texas have incredible potential to continue improving grid reliability and resiliency by selling the excess power they generate to the (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) system," McAdams said. "It's a win-win for Texas. Home and business owners get paid for power they supply and consumers in ERCOT get more reliability."

The project launch comes as a part of the state of Texas’s Aggregate Distributed Energy Resource, a pilot project testing how resident electronics can help provide backup power during outages and times of peak power use. The program is expected to help demonstrate how backup power can help residents and the state itself following the 2021 blizzard, which left millions without any power. Commissioner Jimmy Glotfelty says it will also enable further studies.

"The collaboration achieved the clear goals outlined by the commission and is a model for future projects at the (utility commission)," Glotfelty said. "We have a market in [ERCOT] that allows us to innovate and learn through realtime experimentation with real-world impact."


Sources: Public Utility Commission of Texas / CNET