Utilities in the United States were once commonly large regional monopolies; however, the growth of the renewable energy market has gradually caused a breakdown of the traditional model. The reduction in the price of renewables and energy storage, the establishment of carbon regulations, and the increase in distributed energy resources are further accelerating this change. Many utilities have begun to become more involved in the solar industry, for example, Duke Energy Renewables has become a national solar developer in recent years. Utilities are also looking into offering rooftop solar installations and providing consumers with community-shared solar options. In light of these emerging trends, traditional utilities have been heavily criticized for their aging infrastructure, and new distributed capacities are forcing companies to upgrade their transmission and distribution grids.
As the traditional electric utility industry has been described as being in transition, several new supplier segments have begun to emerge. Network operators sell retail service providers access to their grid, while marketers sell energy futures and derivatives to businesses. In most areas across the United States, service providers and retailers that have bought power at competitive prices from the market can be selected directly by the consumers.