Having just reported its first quarterly revenue decline in 13 years, Apple is hoping to find alternative ways of making money to offset slowing iPhone sales. While most have focused on initiatives like selling ads in the App Store, and the possibility of an Apple car, the company itself is looking in another direction, setting up a new entity called Apple Energy LLC to sell electricity directly to the public.
According to regulatory filings first spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple created the new company in Delaware but it is based at the company's headquarters in Cupertino. According to the filings, Apple will look to sell excess energy created by its hundreds of megawatts of solar projects back to the wholesale energy market, just as many consumers are doing today.
However the filings suggest Apple may look to go one step further and sell the excess energy directly to consumers, a move that would allow the company to receive marketplace rates for the energy rather than wholesale if it sold the energy back to the grid.
Apple claims that it powers 93 percent of its operations (offices, retail stores, data centers) using renewable energy thanks to the company's investment in solar energy, with the company investing in 521 megawatts of solar projects as of March 2016. The company has also invested in other alternative energy projects, including biogas, geothermal and hydroelectric.
Apple is seeking to begin selling electricity directly to consumers by the beginning of August, claiming that it can do so because it won't be able to impact electricity prices as it is not a major energy company. There is precedent for this, with companies like Green Mountain Power already selling electricity directly to consumers across the U.S.
While Apple will certainly generate some revenue if it gets cleared to sell directly to the consumer, the amount is unlikely to move the needle in terms of the its bottom line, especially when compared to the multi-billion dollar businesses like iPhone and iPad.