Hush-Hush Tesla Project Plugs Texas Into 'Mega-Battery'

Elon Musk's company reportedly has secret power supply set up after electric grid failed last month
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2021 7:49 AM CST
Elon Musk Is on a New Power Trip in Texas
This Feb. 16, 2021, file photo shows power lines in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Elon Musk has inserted himself into electric cars, space travel, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrency, so why not take a dive into the US utilities arena? That's apparently what's happening in Texas, where Musk's Tesla is said to have secretly set up a "mega-battery" outside Houston after the state's electrical grid became overwhelmed last month, leaving millions without power in the midst of a rare winter storm. In what Bloomberg calls the company's "first major foray into the epicenter of the US energy economy," the 100-megawatt-plus energy storage project is being built in Angleton by a Tesla subsidiary called Gambit Energy Storage LLC. Tesla hasn't officially announced any such initiative, but Bloomberg, which sifted through public documents to tie the company to the project, notes a worker at the site had a hard hat with the Tesla logo on it. Ars Technica also found paperwork on the Angleton website that documents the project, though Tesla itself isn't mentioned.

The battery is reportedly able to supply power to 20,000 homes on a sweltering day. Musk, a new resident of the Lone Star State, railed last month against the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the company that runs the state's electric grid, as Texas was in the midst of its power troubles. The Gambit project is the latest energy-related move by Tesla, whose official mission is to "accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy," Bloomberg notes. The company already boasts a home battery called Powerwall, as well as a solar roof product. Per Reuters, it also won a 2016 contract to provide a 20MW energy storage system in California. Tesla's slow shift to the power sector may eventually speed up, with more of its focus directed there, Musk said in an earnings call last summer. "The energy business is collectively bigger than the automotive business," he said at the time. An ERCOT official tells Bloomberg the Gambit project has a commercial operation date of June 1. (More Tesla stories.)

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