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Electricity Choice By The Numbers: Who’s Switching Providers and Why?

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Since the turn of the century, more and more electricity markets have begun to allow customers a degree of energy choice through a process called deregulation. Deregulation means that customers have the ability to choose an energy supplier other than the incumbent local utility from which to buy power generation, though that incumbent utility will still be the one to transmit and deliver the electricity via the same grid and set of wires into your home. But opening up energy supplier choices means that customers can opt for a new power provider based on anything they decide worthy, whether that’s price, degree of clean power, customer-friendly programs, and more.

In recent years, more regions have offered deregulated markets and energy choice to their customers and increasing amounts of customers are taking advantage. But who exactly is switching providers and why? Let’s look at the numbers!

Who is eligible to switch?

As covered in a previous blog, eligibility to switch is determined by a number of factors, including whether you’re talking about electricity or gas, whether you’re residential or a commercial & industrial customer, how much energy you consume, and, most importantly, where you are located.

Because the availability of electricity choice is such a patchwork across the country, it’s hard to keep straight who is and isn’t eligible. You should do your homework for your given location and situation, consulting website or calling hotlines for your locality and your utility.

In the end, though, how many customers are actually eligible and how many are switching?

Who has switched?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), as of 2017 there were 16.7 million customers across the country, representing 13% of the national total, who had opted into retail choice programs.

Among these users, they were isolated to a given amount of states, due to the inherent limitations and restrictions that prevent many other customers from opting in. According to this data, the most prevalent states for electricity choice include:

  • 87% of customers in Texas, where participating in electricity choice is actually mandatory for areas covered by the program (which is only 87% of the state’s market, hence why this number is not 100%), choose their own energy supplier
  • 46% of Ohio customers choose their own electricity supplier
  • 35% of Illinois customers pick where their energy generation comes from
  • 34% of those in Massachusetts participate in electricity retail choice

Those aren’t the only states where energy choice is prevalent and growing, though. For example, customers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. may be eligible to choose Atlantic Energy as your energy supplier.

Why are people switching?

The reasons people switch energy suppliers, given the option, mirror the same reasons varying customers choose varying stores to supply their other needs. For one, many customers opt to switch their power providers when they realize that doing so can save them money. If a smaller provider is offering more competitive rates, then changing may be an easy decision.

Another cause for switching may not be the price itself, but the pricing structure. Some energy suppliers may only offer a fixed rate that locks you into a set price per kilowatthour, some may utilize a floating rate that reflects the rises and falls of energy prices on the market, and some may offer a hybrid of the two. Depending on a customer’s appetite for risk and need to lock in a set budget, these different options can appeal to you differently.

In today’s world, people are definitely more conscious of being green and increasing support of renewable energy. As such, the decision to switch can sometimes be a moral one with people opting to choose an energy supplier whose eco-friendly practices line up with their desire for sustainability. If a new supplier offers an increased mix of renewable energy sources as a part of their generation, customers may think that’s the most important factor.

Last, but not least, many customers can choose to switch energy suppliers because of any number of other programs or perks a company offers. Maybe it’s better customer service, maybe it’s more personalized options, or maybe it’s free offerings like Atlantic Energy’s smart home bundle. Whatever the reason, sometimes an energy supplier is simply able to offer something that blows a customer away and makes it easy for them to switch. As mentioned above, this is clearly happening in high numbers so energy suppliers are finding creative ways to satisfy customers more than those in the incumbent utilities are necessarily able to do!

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