Tesla plots entry to Britain's stagnant energy market
Head of operations job ad requires 'healthy skepticism of the status quo'
Ubiquitous billionaire Elon Musk is set to bring his devil-may-care management style to Britain's electricity grid.
Tesla, Musk's electric cars 'n' batteries biz, has posted a London or Manchester-based job opening for head of operations at Tesla Electric, the company's retail energy arm.
This follows Tesla Electric's first outing in Texas last December promising cheap energy. Just one catch, though – customers need to own a Tesla Powerwall battery and associated solar panel system.
The idea is that the Powerwall stores renewable energy from the solar panels and sells that electricity back to the grid at peak times, when power is most expensive, and buying it back when it's cheapest. This "virtual power plant" system is supposed to lessen the need to fire up coal and gas generation during peak times when renewable sources can't keep up with demand. On the customer's side, the process is automated and can be tracked through the Tesla app.
In the Lone Star State, Tesla's off-peak rate is now a third less than other energy providers, and customers have reported making $100-plus in credit by selling power back to the grid during heatwaves when everyone is making the AC work overtime.
That isn't normally an issue in the United Kingdom, where air conditioning is a whimsical curio and the people just do their best not to move on the freak occasions that the mercury approaches 40°C (104°F).
However, between 10,000 and 20,000 Brit households are believed to have the Powerwall tech installed, which costs around £9,500 ($11,500 in the States), and it's rare not to see a Tesla or two on the roads every couple of days or so.
Thus, Tesla can see an opportunity in the UK – particularly after the winter of discontent when energy bills went through the roof following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is estimated to have cost £1,000 for every adult in Britain. A lot of smaller providers went bust during this time and bill price caps have since smothered any form of competition.
- GM races after Tesla with battery pack tech and solar deal
- Tesla expands Powerwall-to-grid program to cover most of California
- Toyota battles Tesla, Ford with own residential energy storage battery
- If Tesla Investor Day was about exciting investors then boy did it fail
The infinitely wise UK government also makes sure that crucial utilities like electricity, gas, water and transport are all private, which sticks in the craw of consumers when nationalized European outfits are allowed to make Brits pay through the nose while keeping low, low prices at home.
Say what you want about Musk – and believe us, we do, often – but at least the man has a positive vision about phasing out fossil fuels, which appeals to Greta Thunbergs young and old. Your car or home battery just needs to have a "T" on it.
The Tesla Electric job ad says: "We believe strongly that simplifying and improving the customer experience around retail electricity and virtual power plants is necessary to drive significant adoption amongst consumers. Delivering a seamless, simple customer experience will ensure that small scale residential flexibility can be fully utilized to support the transition of the entire electricity grid to 100 percent renewables.
"In this role you will have operational responsibility for our retail electricity activities in the UK. This includes responsibility for managing our market entry, and building out the team, systems and processes needed to start operations. After start of commercial activities, you will have ultimate responsibility for day to day operations. We seek candidates with demonstrated experience in delivering retail energy programs and with a healthy skepticism of the status quo."
The head of operations will be required to "lead the ongoing route to market activities" and obtain an electricity supply license from the UK regulator Ofgem.
It's not actually Tesla's first dalliance with the Brit energy market. In 2020, it entered a deal with Octopus Energy to provide a special tariff for Tesla car owners, but the company ditched it earlier this year, signaling its intent to go solo.
Anyway, if you have a "proven track record in a leading position" at a UK energy supplier, you could soon be working alongside everyone's favorite boss. Just ask some recent Twitter alumni. ®