Read time: 4 minutes
Written by Matt White
General Counsel, IGS Energy
Matt oversees the regulatory, legal, and legislative activities for IGS Energy and its affiliate companies throughout the country. He advocates for fair and competitive energy markets, provides legal counsel, executes legislative and regulatory strategy, manages IGS’ inside and outside counsel, and ensures compliance with rules and legal requirements in the states where IGS operates.
While it’s difficult to tell how long it will take, every state will eventually have a competitive energy marketplace.
States began changing their energy laws in the 1980s and 1990s. Now, roughly half of the U.S. has a choice for their energy supply. Technological innovation will continue to reduce our need for monopolies in energy markets. Regional power grids and interstate pipeline systems have made it so that many more homes and businesses can receive natural gas and electricity from more than one company.
New technologies like battery energy storage, rooftop solar panels on homes and businesses, and other clean energy generation technology is becoming more affordable. This makes it less practical to require everyone to buy energy from a monopoly utility. However, laws and regulations generally advance much more slowly than technology. It will be difficult, though, for the government and regulators to ignore technological changes in the marketplace forever.
IGS Energy is focused on the future.
Energy Choice has been allowed in deregulated states across the country, but not in every state.
Why does it matter? Well, energy deregulation has some very specific impacts to the homes and businesses in those states. Namely, deregulated states see reduced energy prices and increased innovation in competitive economies.
But the million dollar question is….
Will every state eventually allow customers to choose their energy provider?
Yes, eventually every state will have energy competition, but it is difficult to know how long that will take.
States began changing their energy laws in the 1980s and 1990s, and now roughly half the people in the United States have a choice for their energy supply. It has taken several decades to get this far, and there is no telling how long it will take to have an open market for the other half of the country.
Technological innovation will reduce our need for monopolies in energy markets.
There was a time in this country, where everyone received their telephone service from the Bell Telephone Companies (a.k.a. Ma Bell). As technology evolved and cellphone towers and other forms of communication became available, there was no longer a need to have a monopoly system in the telephone industry.
The same thing is happening in the gas and electric industries. Regional power grids and interstate pipeline systems have made it so that many more homes and businesses can receive natural gas and electricity from more than one company.
Business and home energy needs are changing so that a one-size-fits-all service no longer works for everyone.
- some people may want more renewable energy,
- some may want to be able to better control their electric prices,
- and some may want to be able to bundle their energy service with other products and services – such as energy efficiency and smart home appliances.
These technological innovations and changes in energy needs are just beginning.
For instance, as battery energy storage and the cost of installing clean energy generation (e.g. rooftop solar on homes and businesses) becomes more affordable, it is becoming less and less practical to require everyone to buy their energy from a monopoly utility.
Laws and regulations, generally, advance much slower than technology.
It is hard to tell how long it will take for legislation to catch up with the changes in the energy industry.
However, it will be very difficult for the government and regulators to ignore these changes in the marketplace forever.
As energy innovation continues to evolve, it is inevitable that utilities will need to evolve in order to stay relevant. I believe that all states will eventually embrace competition, in some capacity, because innovation will be essential to the successful future of energy.
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