Retail Electricity Choice and Wholesale Markets in the U.S.

competition in states

The "flavor" of restructuring differs between states.  California has minimal individual retail choice, but it allows communities as a whole to select an alternative electricity supplier rather than their local monopoly utility, known as "Community Choice Aggregation" (CCA).  Illinois lets individuals/businesses, as well as communities, choose between competing electricity suppliers, while Texas allows individual choice but not community choice.

The transmission tower symbols show which states (or parts of states) belong to a "Regional Transmission Organization" (see RTO map).  An RTO operates the high-voltage transmission network on a regional basis (state-size or larger), rather than each utility controlling the transmission system within its own smaller territory, as in Colorado.  RTOs also operate wholesale electricity markets, where a competitive bidding process determines which power plants are the most cost-effective and get to dispatch (sell) their power.  Utilities in monopoly states control their own power dispatch, so there are no market forces to sort out which power plants are the least-cost power providers.

For more about RTOs, see our overview of the U.S. electricity system and our wholesale markets in Colorado webpage.
For unfamiliar terms, see our terms and definitions webpage.