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What is the state of retail energy choice?

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It has been about 20 years since the first retail power markets in the United States opened up to electricity and natural gas deregulation.  After nearly two decades of competition, what is the current state of retail energy choice? 

Direct Energy Business president John Schultz recently offered his take on a number of hot energy topics including retail competition. Hear his insights in the video below: 


Protecting Low-Income & Vulnerable Customers 

Energy competition can offer a number of benefits to both homes and businesses including energy choice, flexible pricing, cutting-edge technology and renewable energy. You only need to look to Pennsylvania to see how energy choice can help customers save energy and money. Pennsylvania’s economy is currently reaping $818 million per year from electricity competition.

After nearly two decades of competition, studies are underway to assess the national impact of retail electricity and natural gas deregulation for residential customers. In particular, there are efforts to protect low-income and vulnerable customers from predatory sales practices and ensure they are truly benefiting from competition. Direct Energy is supportive of these consumer protections and has been at the forefront of stakeholder dialogues across the country.    

Signs of Retail Expansion

In terms of energy choice for commercial and industrial consumers, three states – California, Nevada, and Virginia – had significant policy developments with varying outcomes. 

In California, key legislation was passed to increase the cap of the state’s direct access program by 4,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) and direct the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to explore further expansion of the program. 

While California took real strides towards retail expansion, voters in Nevada rejected the Energy Choice Initiative, which required second passage (after initially passing in 2016) and saw a whopping $100 million in political campaign contributions. The measure would have opened up the state’s monopoly system to retail competition. 

The year’s most significant development related to retail choice may have taken place in Virginia. In March, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld a major decision by the state’s regulators allowing large electric customers – those above 5 megawatts – to shop for 100 percent renewable energy without having to provide a five-year return notice to their utility. The decision clears a pathway for greater renewable energy choice and Direct Energy was proud to play a leading role in advocating for Virginia consumers.  

Want to hear more energy insights from one of the industry’s leading voices? Find more of Schultz's reflections and predictions for the energy industry below, or watch the complete interview now.

Posted: February 04, 2019