In 2002, Texas deregulated its electricity market to allow power consumers choice in their retail electric providers. Less than 10 years in practice, the deregulated market has become a model for some market advocates in balancing competitive prices for consumers with the ability for electricity providers to retain customers.
While more than dozen other states have at least partially deregulated electricity markets, many industry stakeholders still believe widespread regulation is stifling the growth of the smart grid.
One such group is the COMPETE Coalition, a consortium of technology providers, trade associations, customers, and suppliers. This week the coalition released a statement to encourage policymakers to make electricity markets more competitive as a "best path forward for technology innovations that lead to a modernized and more efficient smart grid."
The document lists five core principles for policymakers to understand:
- Competition leads to innovation in technology and services - In terms of energy and environmental needs, this will save money for customers and allow access to new products and services.
- Customers should have access to transparent price signals - Allowing customers to leverage technologies and services to suit their needs.
- Energy usage data is a fundamental input to energy management services - Policymakers should pursue consistent, transparent rules making customers’ energy usage data available to customers and service providers of their choice.
- Customers should have access and control of their energy usage information - Consumer privacy protection and regulation of energy usage information sharing should be consistent nationally and based on industry standards.
- Customers should have the option to become market participants - In order to access new products and services and where competitive market suppliers can provide innovations that leverage technology to meet customer needs.
For technology providers, the guidelines are an imperative to enter new markets and gain customers "Well-structured competitive electricity markets are an essential ingredient to continued innovation in smart grid and energy management technologies," said Cameron Brooks, vice president of policy for Tendril, providers of a home energy management platform.
And while the current political landscape may not be the most conducive to pass energy-related legislation, former FERC Commissioner Bill Massey believes consumers can help lead the charge."If consumers are to fully realize the tremendous potential benefits of smart grid, it will be through competitive markets that provide appropriate price signals and the opportunity to become active market participants."
Electric high voltage photo provided by Shutterstock