The electricity industry is in the midst of many changes, collectively referred to as restructuring, evolving from a highly regulated environment to one that places greater reliance on competition. This restructuring is occurring against a backdrop of constraints and challenges, including a shared responsibility for implementing and enforcing local, state, and federal laws affecting the electricity industry and an expected substantial increase in electricity demanded by consumers by 2025, requiring significant investment in new power plants and transmission lines. Furthermore, several recent incidents, including the largest blackout in U.S. history along the East Coast in 2003 and the energy crisis in California and other parts of the West in 2000 and 2001, have drawn attention to the need to examine the operation and direction of the industry. At Congress's request, this report summarizes results of previous GAO work on electricity restructuring, which was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. In particular, this report provides information on (1) what the federal government has done to restructure the electricity industry and the wholesale markets that it oversees, (2) how electricity markets have changed since restructuring began, and (3) GAO's views on key challenges that remain in restructuring the electricity industry.
Skip to Highlights