Across North America, millions of electricity customers live in areas that allow them to exercise electric choice. In deregulated states, residents and businesses are allowed to shop for electric service. In total, 17 million residential consumers have exercised their right to choose an alternative electricity provider along with numerous business consumers, according to the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS), a report released by Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC (DEFG).
“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,” said Treadway.
The ABACCUS 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 7 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.
The ABACCUS report explains how consumer can shop for cost savings or numerous other valued features. “While everyone wants lower costs, many consumers willingly choose to lock in the price for electricity for a year or longer,” said Treadway. “Others prefer convenient bill payment features, or emails and text alerts regarding daily usage. Some consumers want power generated by renewable resources. Customer choice, combined with investments in advanced meters, is changing the power industry’s interaction with the consumer,” he said. “Consumers are providing real-time feedback through their shopping habits and changes in usage, and the retail energy providers are responding to satisfy consumer preferences.”
“This year represents another milestone year for retail competition in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Robert F. Powelson, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. “My colleagues and I are very excited to see continued progress with retail offers and new market enhancement programs which are driving further competition in the market. Our main focus in Pennsylvania is to maintain the long-term viability of the marketplace.”
DEFG develops ABACCUS scores and rankings based on data available in the market. ABACCUS provides a baseline for building a properly functioning competitive retail electric market. Copies of the full report are available at www.defgllc.com.