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Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for April 2014  |  Release Date: June 23, 2014  |  Next Release Date: July 28, 2014   |   Revision

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Highlights: April 2014

Key Indicators

  April 2014 % Change from April 2013
Total Net Generation
(Thousand MWh)
296,766 -0.4%
Residential Retail Price
12.31 3.2%
Retail Sales
(Thousand MWh)
272,863 -0.8%
Heating Degree-Days 332 -16.8%
Natural Gas Price, Henry Hub
4.78 10.8%
Natural Gas Consumption
575,137 -2.1%
Coal Consumption
(Thousand Tons)
58,747 -3.5%
Coal Stocks
(Thousand Tons)
128,321 -25.7%
Nuclear Generation
(Thousand MWh)
56,385 -0.7%
Nuclear Outages
22,131 -12.3%

Commercial and industrial retail choice programs continue to grow in eight states

Source: EIA-861, Annual Electric Power Industry Report.

State retail electricity choice in the commercial and industrial sectors has grown significantly in eight states since 2009. Almost half of the U.S. states allow industrial and commercial electricity customers to choose a supplier other than their traditional utility. This growth in retail choice among commercial/industrial customers mirrors a similar trend among residential customers.

Currently, 19 states (revised from 23 in the original June 23, 2014 article) and the District of Columbia have retail choice programs for commercial and industrial customers. Eight states, mostly in the Northeast, have become clear-cut leaders in commercial/industrial retail choice as measured by participation rates. Those states -- Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- have shown a significant rise in commercial/industrial customer participation. Those states have voluntary retail choice programs, i.e., customers can choose to buy from a competitive retail supplier or continue to receive service from their traditional utility.

Texas data were not included in this report. Texas's retail choice program is mandatory under state law. Retail customers must either choose a competitive supplier or be assigned one in the part of the state where the electric system is operated by the ERCOT regional transmission organization.

In 2012, the leading states for participation in retail choice in the commercial and industrial sectors were Connecticut (49%) and Ohio (44%), with Maryland and Pennsylvania tied for third place at 38% each. These states all had the fastest rise in the percent of customers switching to competitive suppliers in the period from 2009-12. In contrast, New York and Massachusetts each had a relatively higher percentage of participation at the beginning of the 2009-12 period, at 23%. In 2012 they only showed a modest growth: Massachusetts to 27% and New York to about 30%.

While the data in this report indicate an upward trend in switching from traditional utility-bundled service to competitive rates offered by power marketers, it may inhibit the growth in retail choice programs. The extreme cold temperatures during the winter of 2013-14 and at the same time increases in wholesale electricity and natural gas prices, have led some retail customers that experienced this price volatility to complain to their state Public Utility Commissions (PUC) or Public Service Commission (PSC). Recently, the New York PSC had been formally asked by a state senator to look into the price spikes in response to hundreds of complaints by customers. The Pennsylvania PUC, meanwhile, has issued rule changes to address wide fluctuations on the variable rates in the electric market there. The Maryland PSC is revising rules for retail customers to protect them from service disconnection and to allow them to more easily switch providers. As a result of these market/weather developments, customers, at least in the short term, may seek retail choice contracts with more price certainty and less risk.

Principal Contributors:

Stephen Scott

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