In states with residential retail choice programs, customers can elect to purchase their electricity directly from their choice of energy suppliers, with the electricity delivered to them by their local utility. The number of customers participating in retail choice programs peaked at 17.2 million customers (13% of total residential customers) in 2014 and has since declined, reaching 16.2 million customers (12% of the national total) in 2016 and 16.7 million customers (13% of the national total) in 2017, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia have active, statewide residential retail choice programs. In Texas, the retail choice program is mandatory under state law in the part of the state operated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Retail customers in ERCOT, which covered 87% of residential customers in the state in 2017, must either choose a competitive supplier or be assigned one. Four other states—Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia—each have a form of limited retail choice that is mostly available to non-residential customers.
Outside of Texas, Ohio has the highest number of residential retail choice customers, followed by Illinois and Massachusetts. These three states have had varying experiences with program participation during the past decade. In recent years, Massachusetts has seen steady growth in retail choice participation, while conditions in Ohio have caused participation to level off and in Illinois to decline.