The electrification of communities, countries, and continents and the wide application of electricity in industry spawned also a fundamental energy industry consisting of globally-pervasive electric utilities and power providers. The electric utility industry includes public utilities (in fact, public utility reflects the general conception of electrical power as a public service) that are state-regulated and semi-controlled power providers, community-based organizations (electrical co-ops and municipal utility districts), private or investor-owned utilities (IOU) and other participants in the modern, deregulated utility markets like energy traders, merchant power plants, independent power producers (IPPs), and other electrical grid service providers.
Regulated and quasi-governmental entities known as transmission system operators (TSO), grid operators, regional transmission organizations (RTO) and independent system operators (ISOs) provide monopoly, although commonly regulated services over the fixed transmission and distribution (T&D) grid infrastructures in a country, state, community, or economic region. While cycles of deregulation and re-regulation occur, developed power markets in the US, Europe and some parts of Asia have exhibited gradual trends towards energy and electrical power deregulation that has opened participation in energy market sales and generation to multiple companies not included under previous utility monopolies.
The wide range of participants in utility power markets and in the electrical utility industry has introduced a wide base of demand for services, equipment and other products, including substation equipment, transmission lines, transformers, switchgear, meters, power plants, generators, turbines, energy storage technologies, other generation technologies, smart grid-related IT technologies, and distribution-side smart grid devices. Energy trading and selling of generation is another major service market.