Tesla loses key energy executive amid hiccups in its Solar Roof rollout

Tesla loses key energy executive amid hiccups in its Solar Roof rollout
Tesla recently hiked the price of its Solar Roof by tens of thousands of dollars.Screenshot via Tesla
  • Tesla's head of energy operations, RJ Johnson, has left the company.
  • He worked at Tesla since early 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile and past earnings calls.
  • The exit comes as Tesla hits speedbumps in the rollout of its Solar Roof product.

Tesla lost a key energy executive as it faces speed bumps in growing its consumer energy business.

RJ Johnson, who led the company's energy operations since August, left Tesla this month for a renewable energy startup in stealth mode, electric-car website Electrek first reported.

Johnson also served as Tesla's global head of commercial energy from March to August of 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he held various management positions at NextEra Energy Resources for nine years.

Johnson and Tesla did not immediately return requests for comment.

Tesla's energy division sells various solar and energy storage products for consumer and business use. Homeowners can purchase a Powerwall, a large battery pack that stores electricity produced by solar panels for later use. Tesla also sells larger battery systems called Powerpack and Megapack for commercial customers.


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Tesla also has a product called Solar Roof, a system of roofing tiles with integrated solar energy generation capabilities. However, its rollout has hit some snags as of late.

In April, Tesla told some Solar Roof customers that their roofs would cost tens of thousands more than they were initially quoted. Many would-be buyers have also reported nightmarish experiences with the company's customer service. Solar Roof customers from several states have sued Tesla over the sudden price hikes.

On a conference call that month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk acknowledged that the company incorrectly estimated how much Solar Roof installations would cost and said customers would be refunded their deposits if they cancel their orders.

"Despite raising the price, the demand is still significantly in excess of our ability to meet the demand to install the Solar Roofs," Musk said. "We did find that we basically made some significant mistakes in assessing the difficulty of certain roofs, but the complexity of roofs varies dramatically. Some roofs are to be literally two times or three times easier than other roofs. So you just can't have a one-size-fits-all situation."


Going forward, Musk said Tesla will only sell its solar-panel products combined with Powerwall.

In the first quarter of 2020, Tesla installed 92 megawatts of solar generation capabilities, a 162% increase from the prior year, and 445 megawatt-hours of storage capacity.

Are you a Tesla customer or employee with a story to share? Contact this reporter at tlevin@insider.com.