CEOs grapple with an elephant in the room — the future of electricity
When Tesla CEO Elon Musk entered a New Orleans ballroom full of utility CEOs earlier this month, he did so as an odd evangelist for expanding the power grid.
The Silicon Valley electric car entrepreneur sought to reassure America’s powerful investor-owned utilities that the story of their industry doesn’t end with flat or declining electricity demand. It doesn’t end with rooftop solar or energy storage.
With summer heat rising off the Louisiana bayou, Musk was there to sell an electric dreamscape. In his rocket to the future, the realignment of the utility business around efficiency, natural gas and zero-carbon technology like electric cars and solar panels is profitable. Utility profits would rise with power demand for Tesla’s latest model. Rooftop solar panels would pull some suburban homes off the electric grid, but industrial-scale battery packs would help manage a broad, interconnected array of centralized and distributed sources of energy.
“Where the future is going for utilities is actually quite positive,” Musk said.