Growing up able to simply plug into a wall socket, electricity often seems like a constant for many Americans. But between growing bills and increasingly-frequent outages in certain parts of the the U.S., many have come to realize how variable it can be, and TXU Energy highlighted some of recent trends for electricity companies and consumers in Texas.

The incredible temperatures that have spurred the ongoing drought that has parched the state has also proven the most notable challenge for both residents and utilities. High temperatures mean high electricity demand, setting a record in both winter and summer peak demand.

But not everything that has happened in the past year has proven bad for consumers, with utilities installing more than 4 million smart meters across the state. While this might seem small to many, aside from providing better information for utilities these devices allow electricity providers to offer new options that were impossible before. This can range from lower electricity prices at times of low demand to special electricity rates for charging electric vehicles.

Most importantly, the state has seen a growing diversification of its electricity suppliers and innovation in the field, which has seen more competition than at any point since Texas adopted electricity deregulation more than a decade ago.