Let customers choose their own billing format.
The information-management and transaction-cost problems facing deregulated markets are familiar to me. They describe precisely the same barriers I was trying to overcome when I founded Utility.com Inc., an entirely Internet-based energy service provider.
The Internet offers an especially powerful tool for customer service. With deregulation, customers face an enormous learning curve. Not only can they now choose their electric company, but they also must become familiar with new terminology and concepts. In the past, consumers faced a single, vertically integrated provider. Under competition they have one supplier of energy and customer services and another for power or gas delivery. While they may have a single point of contact for billing and customer service, consumers always will have to deal directly with delivery companies during outages. All of this education can be provided at virtually no cost on the Web - not only through retailer websites, but also through excellent sites provided by various state utility commissions, the power delivery companies and government agencies. The U.S. Department of Energy provides one of my favorite sites: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/page/restructure.html.
A Ready Demand-side Response