Another hurdle for consumers is that providers offer different rate plans, difficult and opaque contracts with variable rates or expensive fees such as early termination, said Briesemeister.
In Texas there are 30 to 40 power companies who sell over 200 residential offers, said Terry Hadley, communications director at the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
Other states that have deregulated also give consumers the option to pay for a default service, which is usually provided by the incumbent utility and is under the supervision of regulators, said Briesemeister. The default service serves as a benchmark or standard offer rate for consumers to compare prices, she said. Consumers also have the opportunity to return to the standard offer rate.
The AARP was instrumental in helping to defeat a bill that would have eliminated the default service in Connecticut and is working on opposing similar legislation in Pennsylvania," Briesemeister said.
"We don't think deregulation has provided the benefits promised to consumers," she said.
The organization is also heavily involved in trying to prevent Arizona from deregulating utilities.
"No state should move forward," Briesemeister said.
Deregulation has provided many benefits to consumers since companies are willing to take on the risk to build new generation and plants, which often ensures greater reliability for the grid, said Tom Rumsey, vice president, external affairs for New York Independent Systems Operator, a non-profit and non-governmental power grid operator.
The additional generation provided by companies " is the most economic generation, which is often natural gas or renewable energy such as wind," he said.
During New York's recent peak demand of usage in July, all the generators were available to provide power for the entire week, Rumsey said.
While New York deregulated its electricity throughout the entire state over 12 years ago, every market performs differently. One factor that is often overlooked is the cost of the generation, he said. For instance, a coal-fired plant in New York would be extremely expensive because of the property taxes and increased environmental regulations in New York.
"It is the type of generation of the energy that is driving the price," Rumsey said.
Environmental standards also vary from state to state and that cost is passed onto the customer.
"The wholesale cost of electricity is cheaper now than 12 years ago," Rumsey said. "There is no other commodity you can say that about. Our state has also received $10 billion of private investments for new generation."
The purpose of deregulation is not to simply lower electricity prices, but to increase efficiencies and innovations such as renewable energy, said Darrin Pfannstiel, chief regulatory counsel for Dallas-based Stream Energy, which services over 550,000 meters in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and other states.
"Competition has never guaranteed that prices would continue to decrease," he said. "The fallacy is that the consumer only cares about price, but they care about renewable energy and the environment. It is not a reality to see prices keep on decreasing in any market."
To find a report on electric deregulation in Texas, click here.
To see an analysis comparing prices in deregulated areas of Texas, compared to areas of Texas outside deregulation, click here.
For information about the prices throughout US cities, click here.
--Written by Ellen Chang