A primary argument offered by those who advocated for the utility deregulation of the 1990s and 2000s (myself included) was that introducing competition into the market for the production of electricity, and limiting the monopoly (and the price regulation) to the transmission wires and pipelines that constitute the actual natural monopoly, would serve to arrest energy prices.
However, the evidence that retail electricity competition has actually reduced prices is actually somewhat slight. Today’s prices for electricity are not much different, in inflation-adjusted terms, from what they were in the 1990s; while wholesale energy deregulation may have contributed to today’s quiescent prices, its impact has been minimal.
Today, prices in deregulated states are significantly higher than they are in regulated states, which is largely because it was the states with higher utility prices that embraced deregulation to begin with. A better reflection of the relative impact of deregulation is the nearly unvarying spread between prices regulated and deregulated electricity markets over the last twenty years. The difference between retail prices in regulated and deregulated markets has narrowed by just one cent per kilowatt hour.
Late last year the Energy Information Administration published an analysis of customer choice programs. It found that participation in these programs is virtually unchanged since 2013, and that while commercial and industrial customers have benefited from competitive electricity markets, residential customers have generally paid more per kilowatt hour through competitive suppliers than noncompetitive suppliers.