U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Frequently Asked Questions
Can customers choose their electricity supplier?
Some electric utility customers have the option to choose an alternate electricity supplier. This consumer option is often called retail choice. The alternate supplier is the company that generates and/or markets electricity, often referred to as a retail electricity marketer. The alternate supplier may not be the same company that owns the power lines that deliver electricity to customers. The alternate supplier may be an affiliate of the distribution utility. Some suppliers offer electricity generated from clean or green energy sources.
Regardless of the supplier, the distribution utility delivers the contracted electricity to a customer's meter and then charges for that service. Services may be billed in a consolidated bill where electricity and other costs are itemized separately, or services may be billed separately by the two companies (called dual billing). Some utility customers may have the option to choose their billing preferences.
In general, retail choice is available only for utility customers served by investor-owned utilities. There are a few electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, and government operated utilities that offer retail choice. Customers may contact their distribution utility or the utility regulatory commission in their state to see if retail choice is an option.
Last reviewed: December 11, 2014
Other FAQs about Electricity
- Can I generate and sell electricity to an electric utility?
- Can customers choose their electricity supplier?
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