Electric customers in Texas, Pennsylvania, and other states that have ended the monopoly in the electric industry are seeing savings from the competition that results when customers are able to choose their electric provider, notes an Op-Ed in the Washington Post.

The Op-Ed's author, clean energy expert Sunil Sharan whose resume includes senior positions at GE, notes that in most states, there is no choice when its comes to the customer's electric provider -- customers must take service from the monopoly utility regardless of the energy price or quality of service.

"In such an un-competitive environment, customers are often reduced to 'rate-payers' with little-to-no choice when it comes to their energy services or electric suppliers.  Guaranteed revenue streams have made utilities averse to innovation," Sharan writes of states that don't offer electric choice.

In contrast, when electricity providers are forced to compete to win and retain customers, rates are driven down by customers who get to "vote with their feet" and choose the electric suppliers with the lowest prices, most innovative products, and best customer service.

Sharan notes that Texas electric rates are now below the national average, as competitive forces discipline prices.  Pennsylvania electric rates have also fallen as a result of choice.

Indeed, Texas electric rates are actually below the prices from 2001, right before choice was introduced into the Texas electric market.

For example, in Dallas, the last "regulated" electric rate was 9.7¢ per kWh, which was the actual price from December 2001 and has not been adjusted for inflation.

Today, even with inflation, customers can find a fixed rate in the Dallas area below 9 cents per kWh, with variable rates even lower.

Similarly, in Houston, the last "regulated" electric rate, in December 2001, was 10.4¢ per kWh.  Now, customers can find a fixed rate in the Houston area in the 9 cents range, with variable rates even lower.

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