Many jurisdictions around the world have deregulated utilities and opened retail markets to competition. However, inertial decision making can diminish consumer benefits of retail competition. Using household-level data from the Texas residential electricity market, we document evidence of consumer inertia. We estimate an econometric model of retail choice to measure two sources of inertia: (1) search frictions/inattention, and (2) a brand advantage that consumers afford the incumbent. We find that households rarely search for alternative retailers, and when they do search, households attach a brand advantage to the incumbent. Counterfactual experiments show that low-cost information interventions can notably increase consumer surplus.

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Definition
Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Electric Power
Definition
Electric Power
As the electric power system faces new pressures and opportunities, EPIC research is working to identify the mix of policies needed to accelerate the global transition to clean, reliable, affordable...
Definition
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.