An electric utility is most often a company that operates facilities to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity to both public and industrial consumers. Electric utilities can be involved in one or more of these activities. For example, electricity marketers that only buy and sell electricity can also be considered utilities. In the United States, there are around 3,000 electric utility companies providing power to more than 150 million customers. These utilities were responsible for an electricity generation of more than two thousand terawatt-hours in 2020.
There are three main types of electric utilities in the United States: investor-owned utilities, publicly-owned utilities, and not-for-profit cooperatives. While investor-owned utilities make up a small share of electricity providers, they tend to serve the most customers.
Leading U.S. utility companies
Several U.S. electric utilities, including NextEra Energy, Duke Energy, and Southern Company, are among the largest utility companies in the world in terms of market value. With power generation, distribution, and storage infrastructure located throughout the United States, Florida-based NextEra Energy was the world’s most valuable electric utility in 2021, with a market value of 158.8 billion U.S. dollars. Recent years have seen impressive growth in NextEra’s installed renewable energy capacity, as the company pursues significant CO₂ emissions reductions. In fact, NextEra Energy is one of the largest producers of renewable energy worldwide.
The reduction in the price of renewables and energy storage, the establishment of carbon regulations, and growing international pressure have helped push the energy transition in the U.S. in recent years. Many utilities are now investing heavily in clean energy, proposing steep reductions of emissions and increases in efficiency. Some of the leading global utilities in terms of renewable capacity share are now based in the U.S. Electric utilities across the country have also been increasingly introducing smart meters as a means of improving distribution monitoring.
In light of these emerging trends, utilities have faced rising difficulties in recent years due to their aging infrastructure, and new distributed capacities which are forcing companies to upgrade their transmission and distribution grids. As such, operating expenses for transmission and distribution of major investor-owned electric utilities have increased continuously over the past decade, surpassing 18 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 30 most important statistics relating to "Electric utilities in the U.S.".