Tesla, the electric vehicle company that touts global “transition to sustainable energy” as its mission, announced on Friday a third version of its Solar Roof tile for residential use. And as weather conditions threaten traditional power service, like the intentional blackouts California residents are currently facing, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the switch over to renewables like solar is drawing even greater interest from consumers.
"I think we're seeing some demand growth as a result of that," Musk told Cheddar's Hope King during a conference call Friday. "It stands to reason that when you turn the lights off on people, they don't want that to keep happening for the next 10 years."
PG&E, the company that manages power production for much of Northern California recently stated that rolling blackouts during peak wildfire seasons could potentially continue for a decade. The now-bankrupt utility is going through a lengthy process to clear power lines after the company was found liable for a series of wildfires in 2017 and 2018.
Musk said the mass power outages Californians are facing are more than just inconvenient. "When you're sitting there in the dark and all your devices are battery-powered and you lose your phone connection, it's a security risk," he said.
Monday he tweeted that the company is prioritizing customers affected by wildfires.
The latest model of its roof tile will use different materials than previous versions in an effort to bring down the price point. Musk also noted that the company’s goal is to be able to install a full roof in eight hours.
However, Tesla has seen its share of challenges during its push to spread its Solar Roof tiles and Powerwall battery systems into the energy production sector. This summer, the retail giant Walmart filed a lawsuit against Tesla regarding several fires that it blamed on the solar panels installed on seven of its stores.
Along with the Walmart legal action, Tesla faces a shareholder lawsuit over the acquisition of SolarCity, the solar energy business purchased from Elon Musk's cousin, and a government audit into Tesla's solar panel factory project in Buffalo, New York, reported WIVB News.
Yet, the CEO remains bullish, claiming that residential solar power and the electric vehicle business are both important to his company's goals. "I think the fundamental good of Tesla, in my view, is to what degree did we accelerate the advent of a sustainable energy future," Musk said.