Can customers choose their electricity supplier?

Some electric utility customers have the option to choose an alternate electricity supplier. This consumer option is often called retail choice or customer choice. The alternate supplier is the company that generates and/or markets electricity, often referred to as a retail electricity marketer. The alternate supplier may not be the same company that owns the power lines that deliver electricity to customers. The alternate supplier may be an affiliate of the distribution utility. Some suppliers offer electricity generated from green energy sources.

Regardless of the electricity supplier, the distribution utility delivers the contracted electricity to a customer's meter and charges for that service. Services may be billed in a consolidated bill where electricity and other costs are itemized separately, or services may be billed separately by the two companies (called dual billing). Some utility customers may have the option to choose their billing preferences.

In general, retail choice is available only for utility customers served by investor-owned utilities. There are a few electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, and government operated utilities that offer retail choice. Customers may contact their distribution utility or the utility regulatory commission in their state to see if retail choice is an option.

How much electricity does an American home use?

In 2014, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,932 kilowatthours (kWh), an average of 911 kWh per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,497 kWh per residential customer, and Hawaii had the lowest at 6,077 kWh per residential customer.

How is electricity used in U.S. homes?

Estimated U.S. residential electricity consumption by end use, 2014
End use Quadrillion Btu Billion kilowatthours Share of total
Space cooling 0.64 189 13%
Lighting 0.51 150 11%
Water heating 0.45 132 9%
Space heating 0.45 132 9%
Refrigeration 0.36 106 7%
Televisions and related equipment1 0.33 96 7%
Clothes dryers 0.20 60 4%
Furnace fans and boiler circulation pumps 0.15 43 3%
Computers and related equipment2 0.12 34 2%
Cooking 0.11 31 2%
Dishwashers3 0.09 28 2%
Freezers 0.08 22 2%
Clothes washers3 0.03 8 1%
Other uses4 1.31 383 27%
Total consumption 4.83 1,415

1 Includes televisions, set-top boxes, home theater systems, DVD players, and video game consoles.

2 Includes monitors and networking equipment.

3 Does not include water heating.

4 Includes small electric devices, heating elements, and motors not listed above. Does not include electric vehicle charging.