The electricity sector of the United States includes a large array of stakeholders that provide services through electricity generation, transmission, distribution and marketing for industrial, commercial, public and residential customers. It also includes many public institutions that regulate the sector. In 1996, there were 3, 195 electric utilities in the United States, of which fewer than 1, 000 were engaged in power generation. This leaves a large number of mostly smaller utilities engaged only in power distribution. There were also 65 power marketers. Of all utilities, 2, 020 were publicly owned (including 10 Federal utilities), 932 were rural electric cooperatives, and 243 were investor-owned utilities. The electricity transmission network is controlled by Independent System Operators or Regional Transmission Organizations, which are not-for-profit organizations that are obliged to provide indiscriminate access to various suppliers in order to promote competition. The four above-mentioned market segments of the U. S. electricity sector are regulated by different public institutions with some functional overlaps: The federal government sets general policies through the Department of Energy, environmental policy through the Environmental Protection Agency and consumer protection policy through the Federal Trade Commission. The safety of nuclear power plants is overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Economic regulation of the distribution segment is a state responsibility, usually carried out through Public Utilities Commissions, the inter-state transmission segment is regulated by the federal government through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
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