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Feature Article

Utility Disruptors: Turning Peril to Profit

By Roger S. Conrad on Oct. 9, 2018

The demise of General Electric (NYSE: GE) is a shocking reminder that even 100-year-old institutions can face crises that threaten their very survival.

Even now, GE still has huge productive capabilities in vital sectors. But it has equally big problems, and there’s no guarantee its new CEO will be able to engineer a recovery.

In the century and a half since Edison threw the first switch, not one regulated US provider of electricity has ever gone out of business. That’s a remarkable track record for longevity.

But though the services they provide are essential, even water, electric, heating and communications companies haven’t been immune from life-threatening challenges. Despite an increasingly connected world, for example, the communications sector landscape has been littered with GE-type destruction. Today, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Frontier Communications (NYSE: FTR) are arguably a false step from extinction.

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