Deregulation is a battle over metering relationships with commercial customers, not a struggle between competing suppliers of energy.
As long as the local electric utility emerges from the process with exclusive control over its metering, credit, and billing relationships, then deregulation will only cement its position as the customer's primary energy service provider (em and further enhance the "pool" concept by which the local utility acts as agent for the retail customer to purchase energy from independent power producers (IPPs). This outcome will prevail even if regulators adopt retail wheeling.
And there's more. If we assume a totally free and competitive market, then even a cable television or telephone carrier can enter the picture. These telecommunications firms, which can lay claim to a wealth of experience in customer billing and information management, can easily purchase energy services from local or distant electric utilities, acquire transportation and delivery through intermediate providers and local delivery systems, and then build great economies of scale through combined billings along with offsite readings and shutoffs. Their skills can create a bonanza in the synergy that comes from a complete package (em energy, entertainment, and telecommunications.
True deregulation would rest on the bedrock of offsite energy measurement and offsite termination controlled by a distant company. Cable, telephone, wireless or satellite technologies could all play a role. Partial deregulation would permit the local electric utility to act as a billing agent for its customers in reading, collecting, and enforcing service terminations, and acquiring services from any power provider and transporter.