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Tesla’s solar neighborhood in Austin could help TX learn if renewables are viable

By @Maria Merano Twitter

Last week, Elon Musk announced Tesla’s first involvement in a major housing development project in Austin, Texas. The project aims to build the first Tesla Solar neighborhood, making a sustainable residential community.

The Tesla Solar neighborhood was provisionally named SunHouse at Easton Park. Tesla Energy has partnered with developers Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Darca on the project. Easton Park is a 2,400-acre community southwest of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, as per the Austin Business Journal.

Brookfield Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tammy Schneider estimates Easton Park will be fully built in 8 to 10 years with about 10,000 homes. SunHouse at Easton Park will be a small part of the community featuring homes equipped with Tesla Solar and Powerwall, the company’s home battery storage system.

SunHouse is expected to comprise a few thousand homes, and according to Brad Chelton, president of Brookfield Residential Texas, the Tesla Solar and Powerwalls would be available even to entry-level homes. The solar and home battery units are integrated into the homes’ sale price as well, much like state-of-the-art appliances. Starting prices for homes in Easton Park are at the low-$300,000 range.

In April, Tesla integrated its solar products and Powerwall battery, choosing to sell the two together as a bundle. Customers could choose between Tesla solar panels or Solar Roof, but all solar products would be installed with a Powerwall. Tesla Energy also raised the price of its Solar Roof product.

Elon Musk announced Tesla’s solar neighborhood a few days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott released directives that included streamlining incentives to foster and maintain power sources like natural gas, coal, and nuclear power.

In a letter, Gov. Abbott directed the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) and Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to take immediate actions to ensure the reliability of the state’s power grid. The directives also included allocating “reliability costs to generation resources that cannot guarantee their own availability, such as wind and solar power.” In short, the letter suggested generators shoulder the costs of failure if they fail to meet the power demands of Texans.

Gov. Abbott’s directives were released to improve the stability of the Texas grid after it failed in the February winter storm. After the Texas power crisis, many have supported the idea of switching to a renewable power grid. Others believe switching to a renewable power grid would be costly.

SunHouse at Easton Park might be a good way for Texas to learn whether renewable solutions are a good path to take. As for Tesla Energy, it firmly believes battery storage systems combined with renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, could provide enough electricity to the public. In fact, Tesla recently took a stand against coal and gas generators in Australia.

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