Competitive electricity advances across North America

Consumers in areas of North America that have opened their electricity markets to retail competition have seen a surge in product and service innovations compared with consumers in areas where electricity remains a commodity delivered by monopoly providers.

This is according to the Annual Baseline Assessment of Choice in Canada and the United States (ABACCUS) released by Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC (DEFG), a management consulting firm specializing in energy and helping clients better connect with customers.

The ABACCUS report identifies about a dozen areas of North America for their efforts to deliver retail competition. Texas is recognized as the competitive retail market leader for the sixth consecutive year. New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Canadian province of Alberta are also acknowledged for their policies that foster choice for electricity customers. These areas have markets with numerous retail energy suppliers and numerous service choices for customers of all sizes.

"In Texas we refuse to rest on our laurels and have every intention of remaining number one by continuing to add features in our nation's leading electricity market," said Donna L. Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas. "We keep finding ways to increase customer value in the marketplace through smart grid innovations and ongoing improvements in the shopping experience, just to name a few."

The ABACCUS report also identifies several areas of North America for their efforts to further enhance retail competition in 2012 and beyond. Alberta, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio all made noticeable advancements during the year.

"Three years ago, the expiration of long-term rate caps jump-started retail electric competition in Pennsylvania," said Pennsylvania PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. "Since then, the PUC has been working diligently to improve the competitive markets in Pennsylvania. More than 1.9 million customers, representing 59.4 percent of the electricity being used in the state, currently are shopping for their electricity. In the coming year, we will be moving forward with recommendations that have grown out of our retail markets investigation."

"Apart from Texas, Illinois will very soon have the most customers on competitive supply, with more than 50 suppliers competing against each other, including more than 30 suppliers offering service to residential customers," said Illinois Commerce Commissioner Erin O'Connell-Diaz. "With the city of Chicago aggregating about 900,000 customers, in two or three months, close to three-quarters of all residential customers will be receiving their power and energy from a competitive provider. Illinois competition is delivering a full menu of options to all classes of customers."

DEFG develops ABACCUS scores and rankings based on data available in the market. ABACCUS provides a baseline for building a properly functioning competitive energy market.

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