Executive Insight

Competitive electric power markets now serve 17 million customers

Millions of electricity customers in North America live in states and provinces that allow them to shop for electric service. Seventeen million residential consumers have exercised their right to choose along with numerous business consumers, according to a report by Distributed Energy Financial Group.

“People choose from an ever-increasing diversity of retail electricity products,” said Nat Treadway, DEFG managing partner and lead author of the report. “In Texas, more than 300 different choices are available — somewhat like your grocery store cereal aisle — and this is a display of increased consumer participation and healthy competition.” Retail electricity competition grew in 2013 at an even more aggressive pace than in 2011 or 2012. “Competition and increased consumer shopping have prompted retail energy providers to deliver lower prices, and a great variety of innovative products and service choices. For commercial and industrial customers, the evidence is also quite clear. These customers participate in the market at extremely high levels in the states and provinces that allow direct access from supplier to consumer,” he said.

The report recognizes Texas as the leader in competitive retail electric markets for the seventh consecutive year.

“Texans save money when they take the time to shop for their electricity,” said Chairman Donna Nelson of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. “More than two dozen providers offer a variety of plans for the nearly seven million customers in the competitive Texas market.”

In addition, the Canadian province of Alberta, and the U.S. states of Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania were all recognized as leading competitive retail electricity markets. These jurisdictions are at various stages of regulatory reform to create the policies that foster choice while ensuring basic consumer protections.