The electric industry has evolved dramatically during more than 100 years of its existence. Every industry can typically be characterised by a life cycle from infancy through maturity to possible demise or revitalisation. The power industry has been characterised by early infancy (1880s through 1900s), teenage rapid technological change (1900-1920), early adulthood business consolidation (1920-1940), and mature evolution (1940-1970). The 1970s and 1980s have been an era of turbulence and reaction to a changing social, political, and economic world - while the industry settled into a seemingly technological plateau in the 1990s and the early 2000s. The power industry will continue to see technological change, which may be a little slow in terms of hardware but highly volatile in induction of software. Everything may convert from the dumb status to smart equipment's. Additionally, we may also be looking towards a quick journey from around the corner Smart Grids to the as yet distant Wireless Power - something akin to the 3-C technology in communications and the cellular world that has changed the complexion in that sector to the advantage of the customer. However, the key issue for the 2000s is the development of utility business strategies for serving more knowledgeable and mature end-use customer demands, through high quality and least-cost service, in the rapidly changing business environment. The utility power industry, on the other hand, has an exciting future as it evolves to meet these needs. All of a sudden, besides other pre-requisites, it was seen that utility planning was of foremost importance and nearly made-up the backbone of the industry. And the most important ingredient to successful utility planning, however, is creative thought in developing better ways to aggressively serve the customer. The customer has the need for energy, and electricity is one method of serving this energy need - specially in the developed world, where other sources too vie for the business. The customer requires efficient, economic, convenient, and high-quality service, and the requirements of that service can only be met by electrical energy. Consequently, pressure on the power utilities would continue to be immense in the present and the years to come. Changes are also expected in the present configuration of management of the power sector with the provinces joining in a big way. Sindh's aspirations to generate electrical energy through its coal reserves is an apt example. Such changes are welcome in case these add on to affordable means of power generation. On the other hand, political, social, environmental, and regulatory forces influence utility planning. These forces establish the boundaries and level of the business playing field. The boundaries so set are constantly changing, sometimes creating obstacles or mostly opportunities. The turbulent era of the 1970s and 1980s nurtured these influences. Thus, a new utility industry emerged, where aggressive business creativity and flexibility were necessary success elements for the future. As consequence, there has been an increased emphasis by consumers, regulatory agencies, and investors on low-cost, high-quality electric service. A focus has thus emerged on utility projects with contained business risks. Prudency disallowances by regulatory agencies during the 1990s in the developed world have and may further focus utilities toward policies of containing business risks and sharing remaining risks with consumers, equipment manufactures, and project developers. Planning strategies that are flexible to accommodate uncertainties will be important, unlike Pakistan where hydrology and the pricing of oil alone decides the fate of this sector. Apt example of this stranglehold would be the current power crisis in the country. That we were not able to base our planning on the country's resource endowments and that the non-professional nearly always decided what had to be done, is an issue that needs separate space to dilate upon. Partial deregulation and market competition of certain electricity services may allow the potential for greater economic efficiency, thereby passing some of the savings on to the consumer. The National Power Regulatory Act (NERPA) of 1996 is viewed as a first step toward deregulation of the power generation industry in Pakistan. Furthermore, the number of co-generation and independent power projects undertaken since the early and late 1990s is evidence of changes in the generation of electricity in our part of the world. The trend towards unbundling of electricity services into separate generation, transmission, and distribution functions will lead towards increased deregulation and competition in generation and transmission services. In the developed world, increased economic efficiencies after the initial de-bundling etc have been obtained from utility mergers, acquisitions, and operating partnerships. So much so that in the late 1980s, 20 percent of the investor-owned utilities generated 60 percent of the electrical production in the United States. Further concentration within the utility industry may occur if the desired operational efficiencies can be realised through such means and if regulatory agencies approve so. It is also considered that if generation services are unbundled and deregulated, further competition for the construction of new generation plants may result. Potential competitors for owning and operating new plants include service-area utilities (DISCOs in our case) as well as utilities from outside the service area, co-generators, and independent (non-utility) power producers. However, all this would depend upon the availability of low-cost solutions. Increased emphasis on cost reduction will promote more power from low-cost generating units for transmission to distant areas fed by higher cost generation. The future may see Thar Coal powering 15,000 MW for transmission, through ultra High Voltage (UHV) lines, to the load centres a thousand kilometres away to the relegation of existing plants there. We see that transmission networks were originally designed to transport power from local generation locations to local load. Now with the changed scenario, new transmission capacity has been and will continue to be built where low-cost power is available and contractual wheeling agreements can be successfully negotiated to facilitate the transfer of electrical energy over greater distances. If the generation function is deregulated, then access to transmission services becomes important to providing a way for generated electricity to be obtained by the end-user. Transmission may continue to be regulated, but with an open-access policy. Deregulation of transmission to a "common carrier" status may be a possible future outcome. The situation is so interesting that many countries are looking towards the concept of common carriers for distribution of power too. It may be a little complicated and difficult to handle, but soon the customer would have the option to access adjacent distribution facilities and thus end-up paying far less in comparison to what the licensed distributor of his area would charge. And not to be left behind, the power utility business is going to transcend boundaries and very soon countries like Pakistan would be connected to the CARs and also see the SARC Grid around the corner. This all is going to change the whole dynamics of the sector. We would see the hydel stations of Central Asia powering our National Grid during our winters and so on. Small countries like Nepal and Bhutan may become big players in the power game. Incidentally, Energy Security may not be able to be attained for individual countries - rather, areas like South Asia etc would be able to do so in a joint manner. Coming to a de-regulated transmission system, we see that more competitive utility power industry, with increased energy wheeling, may raise state and local concerns. Just as states have wanted to preserve their own environmental quality and conserve natural resources, interstate transmission lines and generating units sited in one state but not significantly benefiting that state, may be perceived as undesirable. Besides this, increased social and environmental concerns may determine the fuels used in new and existing generating units. Issues, including acid rain, waste disposal, and greenhouse effect, may become dominant forces in the utility planning and operational decisions. And finally, but not necessarily all inclusively, the pendulum of change for deregulation of the utility industry may swing back toward containing regulation. In regulated industries when excess supply exists (as it has been in many areas of the United States and even in countries like Canada and some areas of South America), an incentive exists to encourage competition, which tends to reduce prices. However, when there is a shortage of supply as is the case at present in Pakistan and producers raise prices in response to the natural economic principles of supply/demand pricing, then incentives may arise to increase regulation for political and social reasons. Doling out of subsidies etc is also a pointer towards this issue. From the foregoing, it is concluded that the power sector, per se, may be entering uncharted waters all around the world. In case it results in cheaper rates and billing for the customers, de-regulation may further increase. But if the situation does not improve, whatever the reasons be, then we will be heading back to an era of regulated regime. Case in point would be the present clamour by all and sundry to re-nationalise KESC. Additionally, it too is a forgone conclusion that the old way of operating a power utility is gone forever. High performance modules and resource would take place of the existing systems. The managers would have to upgrade and start serving the clientele in accordance with the new requirements and more so if all the people have to be provided access to electricity in the least possible time. The writer is member of the Central Council, IEEEP