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Tesla’s Powerwall Raises Questions

For most, the monthly electric bill is just as certain as those other items in the familiar adage: death and taxes. So will Tesla Motors’ announcement of its intention to enter the energy-storage market change that? With an anticipated price of $7,000 to $9,000 to the consumer, the Powerwall system is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that would store solar energy to use at night.  


But will there be demand or will it take years to generate the interest that the Company’s cars have only now begun to see? It will vary and depend on the incentives states offer for the installation of renewable energy power. Additionally, it remains to be seen whether this is a solution to be a full replacement for home energy needs, or a different way to provide emergency backup power (replacing gasoline or natural gas generators). 
What does seem clear is Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s vision and motive: As founder of another company that builds home energy-storage systems to be linked to rooftop solar arrays, he has a vested interest in the success of home energy options. 

So while Musk touts the Powerwall’s ability to keep the demand for energy down, helping the energy grid during times susceptible to black out, Tesla will need the average consumer to buy into the up-front cost and deal with the potential penalties from utility companies, some of whom have moved to impose extra fees on those who install renewable energy resources. Yet, for a Company with a stock price that has grown in excess of $250 (from its IPO price of $17), these challenges are far from new.

David Katz is a Senior Audit Manager providing domestic and international accounting, auditing and business consulting services to public and private clients in a variety of industries.

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