Lo, but how the times are changed: instead of leaping headlong into a line of business that isn't part of their existing competence, power utilities are hesitant to become broadband providers: What th'!? It's a new age, that's all I know. This article quotes a number of power utilities that are not very interested in becoming ISPs. NStar Electric, a Mass. utility, lost $200 million in an RCN investment, for instance.
Regulators want competition through this back-door method, however, which is why they approved it. It's easier to open a new modality than to, for instance, require reasonable wholesale prices and enforce the rules to allow competitive DSL providers, no?
It's clear that if BPL will happen in the short-run, ISPs like Earthlink will need to find utility partners who want to cope with infrastructure not users.