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The Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States examines multiple aspects of the electricity industry, from the number of electricity suppliers to the rate at which residents shop for lower electricity rates.
One of the key developments that some of the key players in the report mentioned on a call with reporters was the crucial importance of the emergence of smart meters in offering customers new options from different electricity providers. These more accurate meters, aside from providing information consumers can use to reduce their usage, have allowed for options like electricity prices based upon the time of usage and easier integration of systems like solar panels.
"We're seeing continuing innovation and a variety of new products and services being brought to the market, such as a prepaid product using real-time data from advanced meters that allows customers to get [account] balance information in a way they find most useful, such as a text message to their telephone," Donna Nelson, chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission of Texas, told Intelligent Utility.
Smart meters have met with opposition in some areas, such as recently in Illinois, out of fears that the cost of installation could lead to higher electricity bills.