The $220 billion U.S. electricity market - sometimes dubbed the last great government-sanctioned monopoly - is slowly being opened to competition. A total of 24 states have passed deregulation plans that allow residential and commercial consumers to choose their electricity supplier, and at least as many other states are studying free-market proposals. Already, several deregulated states have delivered lower electric rates, particularly to large industrial power users, as well as giving consumers the option to support the production of non-polluting “green power.” But the federal government hasn't developed an overall strategy for deregulating the nation's retail power market. Serious questions remain about the future of the nation's power grid, the potential for discriminatory pricing and contingencies to avoid regional blackouts.
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