Retail energy providers in North America continue to roll out new electric service offerings to residential consumers. The number of active retailers is rising in several jurisdictions. There appears to be a renewed sense of determination by retail energy providers to expand their presence in these markets, possibly in response to efforts by regulators to reform the market rules, reduce barriers to entry and raise public awareness. There also appears to be an improved understanding by retail energy providers of residential consumers’ preferences, based on their experiences with consumer preferences in jurisdictions with significant activity.

There is an assumption—inappropriate, we contend—that small consumers do not understand electricity and do not know how to purchase it. Too many electric industry stakeholders have a habit of describing the electric industry in commodity terms. We believe the language of the electric commodity is limiting and detrimental to reform of retail electricity markets. There is an assumption that consumers just want the electricity commodity, not the end-use services involving energy. Thus there is an emphasis on insulating small consumers from choices, rather than expanding their choices. Small consumers have a great deal of information about their personal preferences for electric service. Small consumers are sophisticated retail purchasers. This report places confidence in small consumers and emphasis on individual consumer choice, product differentiation, and retail energy service innovation.

The separate, presentation-style ABACCUS Executive Summary is a high-level summary of the full report.

Outline

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • ABACCUS Findings
    • Commercial and Industrial Consumer Findings
    • Residential Consumer Findings
  • Effective Retail Market Policies
    • Retail Market Reforms
    • Municipal Aggregation
    • Default Service
    • Summary of Best Practices
  • Recommendations
  • Appendix A: ABACCUS Advisory Board
  • Appendix B: Quotes and Testimonials
  • Appendix C: ABACCUS Sponsors
  • Appendix D: ABACCUS Goals and Process
  • Appendix E: Electricity Restructuring Terminology
  • Appendix F: Innovations in Retail Product and Service Offerings
  • Appendix G: Survey of States and Provinces
  • Appendix H: ABACCUS Methodology

Filed Under: Choice