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State-by-State Look at Energy Regulation in the U.S.

At Spark, we proudly provide energy services to states that enjoy deregulated gas and electricity. Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.

The push for deregulation of natural gas and electricity happened when the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) decided it should limit its authority to wholesale transactions. This move cleared the way for individual states to determine if and how they should allow retail price competition.

Deregulation does not mean elimination of laws against fraud, but eliminates or reducing government control of how business is done, thereby moving toward a more free market.
This means that you can choose the gas and electric that comes to your home or business.

States with Deregulated Electricity

Here’s a closer look at which states have deregulated electricity, with notes for those that may have limitations. Keep in mind that no state has an energy market that is completely deregulated. The closest state is Texas with approximately 85% of the state having access to energy choice.

Of the 18 states that enjoy some level of deregulation, Spark and its family of brands (which include Oasis Energy, Censtar Energy, Provider Power, and Major Energy) have access to the majority of them. Click each link to learn more about Spark electricity services offered in that state.

State

Year Deregulated

Notes

California*California’s electric choice works on a very limited lottery system called DirectAccess.
Connecticut1998
Maine2000
Maryland1999
New Hampshire1998
Illinois1997
Massachusetts1998
Michigan1998
New Jersey1999
New York1997
Ohio1996
Pennsylvania1996
Rhode Island1996Both Natural Gas and Electric Choice programs are limited for residential consumers.
Washington DC2001
Delaware1999
Oregon1997
Texas2002

States with Deregulated Natural Gas

Here’s a closer look at which states enjoy natural gas deregulation, with notes for those that may have limitations. Keep in mind that no state has an energy market that is completely deregulated. The closest state is Texas with approximately 85% of the state having access to energy choice.

Of the 27 states that enjoy deregulation, Spark and its family of brands (which include Oasis Energy, Censtar Energy, Provider Power, and Major Energy) have access to the majority of them. Click through each link to learn more about Spark’s services in that state.

State

Year Deregulated

Comments

Connecticut1996Gas choice is partial and very limited.
Maine1998Natural Gas Choice underwent more of a ‘restructuring’ process. It is only available to Industrial and Commercial consumers.
Maryland1995Some residential, commercial and industrial customers in some areas of Maryland are not eligible for Natural Gas Choice.
New Hampshire1998New Hampshire does not offer Natural Gas Choice to residential customers at this time.
Iowa1997Natural Gas Choice is only available to a small number of consumers.
California1995California’s electric choice works on a very limited lottery system called DirectAccess.
Illinois2002Approximately 75% of the state of Illinois is eligible for Natural Gas Choice.
Massachusetts1998
Michigan2008
New Jersey1999
New York1999
Ohio1997
Pennsylvania1999
Rhode Island1996
Virginia2001Both Natural Gas and Electric Choice programs are limited for residential consumers.
Washington DC1999
Colorado1999Colorado is Natural Gas Deregulated, however no utilities currently offer choice programs.
Florida2002
Georgia1998
Indiana1998Natural Gas Choice is only available for NIPSCO customers.
Kentucky2000
Montana1986
Nebraska1998
New Mexico1980s
South Dakota2005
West Virginia2010
Wyoming1996Wyoming Choice Gas program allows consumers to select or switch their supplier during a specific defined period through Source
Gas Utility.

States with Regulated Electricity

Here’s a closer look at which states do not enjoy electricity deregulation, along with notes for some states that may be working on deregulation.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Hawaii
Idaho
Kansas
Louisiana
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Nevada
North Carolina
North Dakota
Oklahoma
South Carolina
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Washington
Wisconsin
Colorado
Florida
Georgia
Indiana
Kentucky
Montana
Nebraska
New Mexico
South Dakota
West Virginia
Wyoming
Iowa

 

  • Arizona: In 2004, energy regulation was placed on hold due to various regulatory order
  • Arkansas: In 2003, Bill 1114 was signed to reverse energy deregulation
  • Nevada: Currently campaigning to adopt energy deregulation. The status of this state could change in the near future.
  • Oklahoma: In 2001, Senate Bill 440 was signed for further investigation and study of the impacts of energy deregulation.

States with Natural Gas Regulations

Here’s a closer look at which states do not enjoy electricity deregulation, along with notes for some states that may be working on deregulation.

 Oregon
Texas
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Hawaii
Idaho
Kansas
Louisiana
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Nevada
North Carolina
North Dakota
Oklahoma
South Carolina
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Washington
Delaware
Wisconsin

 

  • Arizona: In 2004, energy regulation was placed on hold due to various regulatory order
  • Arkansas: In 2003, Bill 1114 was signed to reverse energy deregulation
  • Nevada: Currently campaigning to adopt energy deregulation. The status of this state could change in the near future.
  • Oklahoma: In 2001, Senate Bill 440 was signed for further investigation and study of the impacts of energy deregulation.
  • Delaware: Gas choice was trialed and discontinued.
  • Wisconsin: Natural Gas Choice program was discontinued in 2001.

How Does a State Decide to Deregulate?

Investor-owned utilities (private companies with ownership shares held by stockholders, like Spark) serve the majority of electricity and natural gas customers in the United States. These utilities are primarily regulated at the state level, where public service commissions (PSCs) are responsible for overseeing and authorizing investment decisions, operations and customer rates.

State regulators of investor-owned utilities (and their counterparts for publicly-owned utilities) are clearly in positions where their decisions and policies strongly influence utility investments and operations. They have a prominent role in establishing regulations and policies that support the establishment and implementation of utility-sector energy efficiency programs. PSCs in some states pioneered regulations and policies that led to the development and practice of utility “demand-side management,” which includes customer energy efficiency programs.

State policymakers and regulators provide clear direction to regulated utilities about the importance of energy efficiency. As a first step, legislators and regulators typically require utilities to offer programs; they also set up mechanisms for utilities to recover their costs through rate case proceedings. A recent trend has been for states to establish specific energy savings targets (typically as a percentage of total energy sales) for regulated utilities. These energy efficiency resource standards (EERS) are in place in a large and rapidly growing number of states.

For more information about how energy deregulation affects you, visit our website.

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