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Why Tesla Put the Pedal to the Metal Today

By Rich Smith – Aug 30, 2021 at 1:26PM

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Does Tesla want to be an electric utility when it grows up?

What happened

Shares of electric car superstar Tesla (TSLA -3.21%) accelerated 2.5% as of 12:10 p.m. EDT Monday, continuing a winning spurt that began late last week.

As CNBC reported, on Thursday Tesla's Tesla Energy Ventures subsidiary applied to the Texas Public Utility Commission to "sell electricity directly to customers in Texas."  

Hand on glass ball containing colorful electricity from a tesla coil

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

As you've probably heard, Tesla has been building a global business in the new field of battery warehouses, setting up electricity storage facilities in Australia, Belgium, and California. In Texas, it's building two more battery facilities -- one near Houston and another near Austin -- totaling hundreds of megawatts of capacity.  

This seems somewhat different from that.

Rather than just storing electricity produced by other companies, and feeding it back into the grid as needed to prevent blackouts and brownouts, Tesla's new license would authorize it to produce and sell electricity directly to consumers, utilizing a sales force shared with the Tesla division that sells home solar roofs.

Now what

It's not 100% clear how Tesla intends to produce the electricity that it wants to sell -- whether through solar panels (the logical conclusion), or windmills (very popular in Texas), or cogeneration of electricity at its Austin gigafactory.

For that matter, Tesla might only be planning to buy electricity when it's cheap, store it in its battery warehouse, and then resell the power whenever it's dear. We simply don't know. (TexasMonthly, which first reported on Tesla's application, laments simply that "details ... are scant.")

What is clear is that Tesla is growing and expanding into new markets once again. For investors today, that seems to be plenty to send Tesla shares higher.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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