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Staid power Industry is branching out

USA Today logoSelling electricity was once a relatively simple proposition.

A utility fired up a power station with coal, natural gas, oil or some other fuel, and sent electricity down a wire to customers.

But the business model for the electric power industry has changed dramatically in the U.S. over the past 25 years, with deregulation opening markets to competing sellers of electricity, and new technologies offering a dizzying array of options for consumers.

The latest sign of change in the industry is the announcement by Edison Internationalof a new subsidiary called Edison Energy that sells “energy as a service” to commercial and industrial customers throughout the U.S.

“It’s an interesting time for Edison and an interesting time for the whole industry,” Allan Schurr, the president of Irvine, Calif.-based Edison Energy, said following the company’s unveiling on Tuesday. “It was just time for us to make this move.”

Schurr’s company is set up separately from Edison International’s regulated company, Southern California Edison, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., with more than 15 million customers in the Golden State.

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