By Millicent Dent | Bloomberg
Of all the efforts to break up utility monopolies in the U.S., the one unfolding in Arizona may be the most important to watch.
Officials in the state, where Arizona Public Service Co. has long reigned, are considering allowing customers to pick their own electricity providers. Independent power companies and free-market groups are pushing similar efforts in Florida and Virginia. The difference is in Arizona it’s being spearheaded by regulators.
“If they want to deregulate, they may be more in a place to do it,” said Paul Patterson, an utility analyst at Glenrock Associates.
The outcome could have far-reaching implications. While Texas and other states have allowed customers to choose their electricity providers for more than a decade, traditional utility models are common across the U.S. The proliferation of rooftop solar panels, smart meters, battery systems and other technologies are already reshaping the utility landscape, and creating more competitive retail markets is shaping up to be the next step in that evolution.