Beyond-the-meter technologies challenge the utility monopoly.
Andre Begosso (email@example.com) is a senior manager in Accenture’s utilities strategy practice. Tim Porter (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior executive in the practice and is the retail lead for utilities. Robert Laurens (email@example.com) is a senior executive in the practice and is the head of strategy for utilities. The authors acknowledge the contributions of Sarah Callaghan and Curtis Bech, Accenture analyst and manager, respectively.
Since the emergence of competitive retail markets in United States in the late 1990s, the power retail business has been through its fair share of booms and busts. It was first adopted as a growth engine by a number of utilities and other market participants. It was subsequently dropped by most utilities when the market collapsed and restructuring came to a screeching halt in the early 2000s. The market has resurged since then with independent power retailers leading the way with a continued focus on commodity sales.
Nevertheless, the competitive retail electricity market in the United States has progressed slowly over the last decade. The lack of a national blueprint for utility restructuring has created a patchwork of disparate market structures, making standardization difficult to achieve. This has been further complicated by the overarching political agendas of state regulatory commissions and their desire to protect consumers. A hodgepodge of transitional regulated rate caps froze retail commodity costs in many markets, limiting consumer switching and stunting competition. Thus, power retail has been relegated to an afterthought by most in the utility industry for many years.