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Casino Royale?

Utilities place billion-dollar bets on infrastructure, but the deck may be stacked against them.

Fortnightly Magazine - December 2006

Harris recalled the early beginnings of the famed DuPont Co. DuPont, which started as a gun powder mill, would never have become the renowned chemicals company if the DuPonts hadn’t figured out that chemistry, not black powder, was its core competency. Harris says PJM’s core competency is really “data-to-information.”

Unfortunately, the information from the three other panelists didn’t offer a clear-cut answer for the source of utility value. A KeySpan executive believed his core competency was utility services. A PG&E Corp. executive believed value came from having integrity. The former Cinergy executive thought his company’s core competency was building and maintaining relationships.

Three of a different kind usually doesn’t do well at almost any card game. Utilities had better start playing a stronger hand in what is quickly becoming the final round.