UTILITY DEREGULATION & GREEN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY PROVIDERS

Mar 14, 2016 by

As of April 2014, 16 states and the District of Columbia had deregulated their electrical sectors, while another seven had started and suspended deregulation, according to ElectricChoice.com. Seventeen million residential consumers and most large businesses now shop for energy in deregulated markets, with 43 percent of consumers and 80 percent of businesses now pursuing competitive options, according to Distributed Energy Financial Group’s Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS).

The Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act of 2015 was introduced in March 2015 to further accelerate deregulation, but remains stuck in committee, just as deregulation remains controversial. Proponents argue that increased competition means lower prices for consumers, and point to success stories in states such as Texas. Critics argue that an unregulated market runs the risk of monopolies gouging consumers when energy is in high demand, and point to the struggles states such as California have had implementing deregulation. Examples can be found to illustrate both sides of the argument, however, deregulation has encouraged the growth of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional utilities.

Illinois

Illinois is another state where deregulation has spurred competition and generated more green power usage. Electric deregulation saved Illinois consumers an estimated $37 billion over 16 years, according to a 2014 report. The report found that between 1998 and 2013, average Illinois electricity prices went from the 13th highest in the nation to among the 10 lowest.

This more competitive marketplace has increased green energy use in Illinois. And it’s spilling into the consumer market, with more residents concerned with using energy-efficient appliances. Illinois leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity, according to a 2014 report. The report found that 91 Illinois communities had achieved 100 percent renewable energy, ahead of any other state.

Texas

Texas ranked as the ABACCUS leader in competitive retail electric markets for the eighth year in a row in 2015. A 2014 Pacific Research Institute study also ranked Texas as tied for number one among states with the most economically efficient energy regulations, along with Alabama, Alaska and South Dakota. Dozens of retail electric providers now operate in the state, offering Texans hundred of packages to choose from. An increasing number of these new providers offer electricity from alternative energy sources. Texas is the leading provider of wind power in the United States, and solar power is projected to grow sixfold in 2016, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

One city experiencing the effects of deregulation is Houston, where comparison shopping sites such as Zonesty have emerged to help consumers and businesses choose between providers and packages, including renewable energy options.

Pennsylvania

Another state where deregulation has fueled more competition and more renewable energy selection is Pennsylvania. Like Texas, Pennsylvania ranked high on the ABACCUS list of most competitive retail electric markets, coming in third after Alberta. Pennsylvania residents can now use the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s PAPowerSwitch website to easily compare electric suppliers, as well as search for suppliers offering green energy options.

In this more competitive market, the number of residents, businesses and government agencies buying energy from renewable sources has been growing, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Western Pennsylvania Energy Consortium has joined the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, which promotes electricity produced from sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy. Philadelphia now ranks 12th in the country among local governments making voluntary green energy purchases.

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