Tesla is making a giant battery to plug into the Texas power grid, and it could store enough energy for 20,000 homes

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. Maja Hitij/Getty Images
  • Tesla is building a giant 100-megawatt battery to plug into Texas’ power grid, Bloomberg first reported.
  • The project in Angleton, Brazoria County, would aim to help stabilize the area’s energy supply.
  • In February, devastating blackouts left millions of Texans without power and clean drinking water.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Tesla is making a giant battery to plug into Texas’ power grid, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

Gambit Energy Storage, a subsidiary of the electric-car giant, is developing a battery-energy-storage project in Brazoria County, Texas.

The system is registered with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s power-grid operator. An ERCOT filing from August gave the project an expected commercial opening date of June 1, 2021, and said it has capacity to store 100 megawatts of energy.

That would be enough to power 20,000 homes on a hot day, Bloomberg reported.

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The battery is set to charge from the grid when energy prices are low, and then discharge when the electric system has a shortage of energy. The battery could help the local electric system come back online by providing energy to jump-start electric generators during a blackout or natural disaster, local officials said.

The project in Angleton – a town of around 3,000 people, about 64km from Houston – was initially proposed by Plus Power. The renewables company told Bloomberg it had sold the Angleton project, without naming the buyer. 

Power Plus and city of Angleton staff held a meeting in January 2020 to discuss the storage park, and accompanying documents show the Tesla logo on a “representative image” of what the site would look like. Bloomberg also reported that a Tesla logo was visible at the site during construction.

Tesla didn’t respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment. Insider has also approached Tesla for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

In the documents, the Power Plus and city officials said the project would connect to the grid through the existing Angleton Substation and would use “proven, reliable, and safe lithium-ion batteries.”

The facility would be unmanned and remotely monitored “with no emissions of any kind,” they said. It would be located at least 45.72m away from houses and concealed by “substantial natural vegetation.”

“The Energy Storage Park would strengthen Angleton’s energy independence and resiliency for decades into the future,” the officials added.

In a separate filing, Gambit registered a power generator with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the state’s utilities regulator, on June 30, 2020. The document listed the generator’s service area as the Texas-New Mexico Power Company.

Tesla already has a battery project in South Australia, which it launched in 2017. The site stores surplus electricity from a neighboring wind farm.

The news of Tesla’s energy project in Angleton comes as lawmakers and residents alike continue to scrutinize the Lone Star State’s deregulated energy market in the aftermath of February’s devastating blackouts.

major winter storm that hit Texas on February 15 caused sources of electricity, such as natural-gas plants, to go offline, while simultaneously increasing the demand for energy as people across the state turned on heaters to stay warm.

This caused a huge shortfall in energy, and the wholesale price of electricity surged 10,000%. One Army veteran said he was billed $US16,000 ($20,899) for power.

During the storm, Musk tweeted that ERCOT was “not earning that R” – which stands for “reliability” in the nonprofit’s acronym.

Millions in the state also lost access to clean drinking water and were asked to boil their water, after power outages hit treatment facilities. President Joe Biden declared it a “major disaster.”

ERCOT fired its CEO, Bill Magness, Wednesday, just two days after DeAnn Walker, the head of the Texas PUC, resigned.

Musk is also trying to form a new city called Starbase at SpaceX’s launch facilities in Texas.