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How did Tesla’s free energy work?

“You were able to go into your garage and disconnect from the grid at certain moments,” Klaiber says. “You could get an almost instant charge. It had the advantage of being incredibly clean.”

The company’s approach—sensing demand and supplying as much power as possible to the grid—wasn’t new. However, because it was not dependent on any central provider, it offered an alternative to an old model that was vulnerable to big-time price swings. (See “When Solar Power Doesn’t Sell: The Unwritten Rules.”)

Tesla was also able to maintain a stable price and have good supply and production. As the company’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, said, “As soon as you are in business, and do an investment … your competitors have an opportunity to get out of business. So the Tesla Model S is a great example of what happens when you do that over the long term.”

Tesla has also been able to offer an alternative to the grid that could be installed in any community, giving everyone flexibility to buy some electricity at a low rate, knowing their property will be treated as part of the electric grid, as long as they also connect to the power grid.

This is why even when Tesla is making money or selling cars, many consumers aren’t thrilled. “It’s not that everyone wants to put solar panels on their house,” says Klaiber. “That’s not Tesla’s business model. They’re focused on the long-term, making a positive contribution to the world.”

While the success of the Tesla Model S has been amazing, the company may well have gone too far on what he calls “unregulated capitalism.” The free energy was great for the company on the surface, but it came at a price for those who don’t buy the solar panels—the company didn’t want to deal with that. Tesla’s free energy was a great business idea, but when the market is broken, you lose money. It’s a lesson to the rest of us that we all need to be on the lookout for when we make business decisions.

I want to share this with you today, the morning after the final game of the 2016 season to end things early, because my friend Matt was watching the final few minutes of the Dallas match with me. I don’t know Matt, and I don’t think I’ll ever see a time when we talk to one another again after we play soccer. But I’m a man on a mission: to put