After a period of relative stability regarding how states in the Western United States regulate their electric utilities, recent months have brought a raft of developments showing changing dynamics in how these states may approach the structure of utility regulation in future years. This white paper discusses the concept of "competition" in the context of the sales and regulation of electricity in the Western U.S. It approaches the subject by delineating approaches to competition in wholesale markets as distinct from retail markets. This paper concludes that the emergence of various emergent wholesale market structures and other regulatory innovations in the West offer a plausible path towards harnessing competitive forces, while aligning state public policies with customer benefits. Conversely, the experience of retail competition across the U.S. is far less sanguine and seems particularly ill-suited to the Western context.
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