After more than a decade of attempts, Maine residents can now choose their own retail energy provider thanks to energy deregulation laws that allow power customers to shop around for the best electricity rate.
What's more, this flourishing competitive market can be traced back to the shale gas boom that has swept the country, according to Power Engineering. This boom has lowered overall operating costs for grid companies across the spectrum, from generation to delivery. This translates to cheaper electricity for customers as a slew of independent electric suppliers head to Maine.
Already, five such companies are operating in Maine and are providing homes and small businesses with power at a discount to state and municipal utilities. When deregulation was first introduced, it spread quickly, as it has in a number of other states.
"At the time, everybody thought the phone would be ringing off the hook at dinner time" because of all the power companies that were trying to attract new customers, said Eric Bryant, who worked in 2000 as part of Maine's Office of the Public Advocate.
Maine is one of several states in the Northeast that have passed energy deregulation laws. Others include Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut.