With no system in place to collect data, retail choice brought gridlock to England and Wales in 1994. California, you're next.Consider what happens when one moves from dealing with a few thousand sizable customers that are easily identifiable, to more than 20 million residential customers who suddenly acquire the "power to choose."Congressman Schaefer's bill promises that "by no later than December 15, 2000, all electric utility retail customers shall have the right to purchase retail electric energy services from any person offering to provide those services to such customers." Even more daunting, the California Public Utilities Commission has called for "direct access" open to all sizes of customer, beginning in 1998.
However, as we found out the hard way on the other side of the Atlantic, these promises are easier to make than to deliver. Competition in England and Wales has been introduced in two phases thus far (em 5,000 sites taking over one megawatt were given competitive choice in 1990, then 45,000 sites taking over 100 kilowatts in 1994. We are promised (em or perhaps more accurately, threatened (em with a free-for-all in 1998, which at the moment looks like chaos for many.
Opening the market in 1990 was not without its problems: shortages of meters and modems
connected into the central Pool settlement system, arguments about the price that the distribution companies charged for