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Perspective

Fortnightly Magazine - November 15 1998

in each particular utility's philosophy on risk, altruism, and patience. If the Glasgow project is comparable to the voyage of Columbus, then the decisions of other utilities are similar to the European countries decisions on colonization. In those days the English settlements called themselves plantations and Francis Bacon's essay "Of Plantations" (1625) is illustrative of the decisions each electric utility must make.

"Planting of countries," he wrote, "is like planting of woods. For you must make account to lose almost twenty years' profit, and expect your recompense in the end. For the principal thing that hath been the destruction of most plantations hath been the base and hasty drawing of profit in the first years. It is true, speedy profit is not to be neglected, as far as it may stand with the good of the plantation, but no farther."

A plantation then, was a place of risk and of calculation. It is the same today in the electric utility business.

William J. "Billy" Ray is superintendent of the Glasgow (Ky.) Electric Plant Board. For more than 10 years he has been a vocal proponent of turning electric utilities into "technology utilities."

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