Tesla Wants to Use Powerwall Battery Systems in Texas to Avoid Blackouts

The company seeks to convince the state's electrical grid operator to let batteries supply power to the grid.

Andrew Blok Editor I
Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a focus on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make smart energy decisions. He's a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
Expertise Solar providers and portable solar power; coffee makers, grinders and products Credentials
  • Master's degree in environmental journalism
Andrew Blok
2 min read
Tesla Powerwall battery backup

Telsa is looking to recruit owners of its Powerwall batteries to provide electricity to the grid in Texas. The company is hoping to demonstrate to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that a group of batteries operating together, called a virtual power plant, can provide electricity and stability to a grid that's been criticized for its unreliability in recent years.

ERCOT, which manages the state's power grid, doesn't currently allow batteries to send power to the grid. Tesla says the company hopes the virtual power plant will convince ERCOT of the battery's value and prompt a policy change.

"ERCOT does not comment on specific companies, plans or projects," a spokesperson said.

The risk of blackouts is high for much of North America this summer, a regulatory board said last week. That's thanks in part to expected higher-than-normal temperatures, which could increase demand, and an ongoing drought that reduced the supply of available hydroelectricity. Battery storage is one way to meet demand. Virtual power plants have been successful in doing so in other parts of the country.

In February 2021, roughly 4 million people across Texas faced days of outages as power generators and natural gas pipes froze, crippling the state's production capabilities. Texas has its own independent power grid and isn't connected to the Eastern Interconnection and the Western Interconnection grids covering the rest of the country.

Tesla ran a similar, voluntary virtual power plant pilot in California in 2021. At the time, analysts suggested that without stronger incentives for participation, the overall impact would be minor.