Who are the Major Players in the Pennsylvania Electricity Market?
The Pennsylvania electricity market offers consumers energy choice and the ability to pick the electricity provider that best meets their needs. Many consumers however, may have questions about how the market works and what the terms they often hear mean. To better understand the market and make the best energy choice possible, learning more about the market's most essential players is integral. Here is a brief look at the major players in the Pennsylvania electricity market.
Governance & Oversight:
The Pennsylvania Utilities Commission (PUC) is responsible for ensuring Pennsylvania residents have access to electricity in a safe manner and at a reliable rate. On the utility side, the PUC is tasked with growing the competitive landscape to spur innovation and create new technologies that will improve the market as a whole in a safe, environmentally friendly manner. On the consumer side, the PUC provides educational materials to inform and empower citizens, helping to ensure they get the most out of the deregulated electricity market. The PUC also manages the website PA Power Switch, a consumer-friendly resource aimed at helping Pennsylvanians learn more about the deregulated Pennsylvania electricity market.
The PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization (RTO). It coordinates the movement of electricity at wholesale prices for 13 different states, including Pennsylvania. PJM operates as a neutral, independent party and coordinates electricity development and improvements across all of the states it services. Its membership includes transmission or generation owners, suppliers, electric distributors and customers.
The electric supplier, also called the power generator, is the company that is responsible for the creation and sale of the electricity Pennsylvanians use in their homes every day. Some electric suppliers own their own generation facilities, others purchase the electricity from power generators before selling that electricity on the open market.
The deregulated market gives consumers the freedom to choose their own energy supplier, based on where they live, the plan's price and benefits, and whether the plan offers green-energy options. Consumers can select a new electricity supplier by phone, and the effective date of the supplier change will depend on the most recent meter reading. This could be anywhere from 16 to 45 days.
Electric suppliers generate and transmit electricity, and electric distributors are responsible for the actual distribution of electricity to consumers' homes. This role is filled by the local utilities operating across the state. While customers have the freedom to pick their electric supplier, the distributor owns the wires and poles used to distribute the power and, as such, the utility who owns this equipment will be responsible for power distribution in a given area.
In times of severe weather, the utility company is also responsible for making repairs to the lines and restoring power as quickly as possible. In the event a consumer elects not to sign a contract with a third-party electric supplier, the local utility will operate as the electricity supplier for the consumer.
It's Your Choice
The final and perhaps most important facet of the deregulated Pennsylvania electricity market are the customers themselves. The deregulation process began in 1997 with House Bill 1509, which was aimed at improving consumer experience. The bill also aimed to provide consumers with energy choice and lower costs. Today, consumers are still reaping the benefits of that choice and driving the market toward new innovation through competition. As consumers continue to demand more from their energy providers, the market figures only to grow and develop further, which is to the benefit of all involved.
When you learn more about the major players in the Pennsylvania electricity market, you can better understand how each affects the market as a whole.