All 50 states have considered deregulating local electric service. Deregulation, more properly called restructuring, opens retail electricity markets to competition, which is a significant change from the traditional utility monopoly. In the past, regulated monopolies met all consumer needs for electricity: providing for generation, transmission of high voltage power to distribution points, and the distribution of the power to businesses and homes. In restructured markets, the energy user chooses who generates the power. States hope that open competition between power generators will bring lower prices.
The progress of electricity restructuring in each state can be categorized four ways. Some states have implemented restructuring and are fine-tuning the process. Others are well along in the restructuring process. Some have put the process on hold. Others have decided not to take any action at this time.
Stuck in the Middle
A major issue facing fence-sitting states-states that have started the electric restructuring ball rolling, but have since suspended activity, is the ongoing California energy crisis. California's decision to put its own electricity restructuring plans on hold in March 2002 does little to instill confidence in these fence sitters. In New Mexico, where customer choice for nonresidential customers was delayed until July 2008, the state's public utilities commission stated, "California showed us what can go wrong if we don't have a good understanding of these markets and how they are evolving around the country." Nevada's Governor Kenny Guinn said he was hopeful his new Nevada Energy Protection Plan would help "... avoid the mistakes made in California and not subject our citizens to the runaway energy costs seen there."
In addition to enjoying relatively low energy costs, South Carolina and North Carolina share many of these "California concerns" as well, and both are treading water on the restructuring issue. Wisconsin's s Public Service Corporation went so far as to withdraw its restructuring plan filed with the …