U.S. Energy Information Administration logo

Electricity

‹ See all Electricity Reports

Electricity Monthly Update

With Data for May 2018  |  Release Date: July 24, 2018  |  Next Release Date: August 24, 2018

Previous Issues

Highlights: May 2018

  • Texas (ERCOT) reached 95% of its all-time daily peak load on May 29 as warm temperatures and a growing demand base increased demand levels in this region.
  • 12-month low wholesale natural gas prices were set at several hubs across the country.
  • Net electricity generation increased 5.4% compared to the previous year, as the country experienced record warm temperatures during May 2018.

Key indicators




Residential retail choice participation declines in 2016, with steep drop in Illinois and Ohio, strong growth in Rhode Island

Note: Excludes Texas data from Residential Retail Choice Customer totals as Texas's retail choice program is mandatory under state law in areas operated by ERCOT. Texas data are included in Total Residential Customers in order to calculate Retail Choice Customers as a percentage of Total Residential Customers.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Form EIA-861).

Total residential retail choice customers declined from 10.3 million customers in 2015 to 10.2 million customers in 2016. Residential retail choice customers as a percent of the total residential customers also fell from 8.0% of total residential customers in 2015 to 7.8% in 2016. These levels compare with a high level of 11.4 million customers and 8.9% of total residential customers in 2014. Residential retail choice customers purchase their electricity directly from energy suppliers, and the electricity is delivered to them by their local utility.

Texas data are not included in this article. Texas's retail choice program is mandatory under state law in the part of the state operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Retail customers in that area must either choose a competitive supplier or be assigned one.

Residential retail choice customers by state, 2015-16
State
2015 residential choice customers
2016 residential choice customers
2015 to 2016 % change
2016 total residential customers
2016 penetration rate
OH 2,205,053 2,170,554 -1.6% 4,911,597 44.2%
IL 2,466,710 2,029,580 -17.7% 5,231,541 38.8%
MA 628,262 907,000 44.4% 2,740,865 33.1%
PA 1,713,010 1,750,299 2.2% 5,335,555 32.8%
CT 483,319 451,487 -6.6% 1,486,741 30.4%
MD 457,685 446,275 -2.5% 2,288,301 19.5%
NY 1,331,436 1,305,499 -1.9% 7,118,901 18.3%
ME 147,401 113,195 -23.2% 699,321 16.2%
NH 93,523 98,626 5.5%% 612,716 16.1%
DC 29,322 37,342 27.4%% 259,392 14.4%
NJ 413,422 443,387 7.2% 3,510,141 12.6%
RI 32,261 46,880 45.3% 438,507 10.7%
DE 28,669 28,586 -0.3% 419,234 6.8%
CA 303,650 364,459 20.0% 13,445,133 2.7%
Total 10,333,723 10,193,169 -- 48,497,945 --
Note: Excludes Texas data as Texas's retail choice program is mandatory under state law.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Form EIA-861).

The numbers of residential retail choice customers have been stagnant in some states and have declined significantly in New York, Connecticut, and Ohio. The largest decline recently was in Illinois. Previously, Illinois had one of the highest growth rates in retail customer choice among residential customers between 2009 and 2013, largely in part because of municipal aggregation and a steep drop in natural gas prices. Lower natural gas prices helped suppliers offer competitive pricing. Municipal aggregation, meanwhile, allows a municipality/community to participate in retail choice programs by negotiating competitive electricity rates from retail power marketers for large groups of customers within the municipality/community.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Form EIA-861).

Following the polar vortex event in January 2014, FirstEnergy Solutions, a major retail power marketer in both Illinois and Ohio, announced they would impose a one-time polar vortex surcharge on all Illinois and Ohio customers of $5–$15 per residential customer and 1%–3% of annual charges to small business customers. This surcharge led to a broad investigation by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on pass-through charges for fixed-rate retail customers. Ultimately, FirstEnergy Solutions decided to exclude their almost 3 million residential customers from the charge.

Although the surcharge was intended to cover extra costs billed in the PJM regional transmission area, the announcement was unpopular and resulted in retail choice customers switching back to their full-service providers in Ohio and Illinois. Following this event, residential customers in Ohio switched back to their full-service providers at a rate of 3% and 2% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In Illinois, the switchback rates were 16% and 18% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. As of 2016, retail choice providers service 38.8% of total residential customers in Illinois, down from their peak of 57.3% in 2014.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Form EIA-861).

Rhode Island, on the other hand, has seen the number of residential retail choice customers increase by 846% from 2012 to 2016. Although the growth peaked in 2014 and has declined somewhat since then, the state still has had one of the most consistent upward trends in retail choice penetration rates, moving from 1.1% of total residential customers in 2012 to 10.7% of total residential customers in 2016. One contributing factor for Rhode Island’s increase in choice customers could be that the cost of electricity in the state was the fourth highest in the country in 2016 at 18.62 cents/kWh.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Power Industry Report (Form EIA-861).

Another factor contributing to retail choice growth in Rhode Island appears to be the launch of Empower RI by Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee. Empower RI, introduced in early 2016, eases the process of finding an alternative supplier by providing an online tool and website where customers can compare rates quickly and easily. Also, in response to concerns in neighboring Massachusetts about suppliers charging customers in excess of what they would have paid from their local utility, Rhode Island Lt. Governor McKee announced he was introducing legislation that would not allow retail choice contracts that automatically renew. Even with these concerns regarding contract renewal, retail choice is still seeing strong growth in the residential sector in Rhode Island.


Principal Contributor:

Kimberly Palacios
(Kimberly.Palacios@eia.gov)

Print this issue Download the data (csv)

In this Issue:

Highlights

End Use

Resource Use

Regional Wholesale Markets

Coal Stocks

Data Tables

About Electricity Monthly Update

Electricity Monthly Update Explained

Methodology & Documentation

Contact Information & Staff