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PCCA Journal|1


Quarter 2010



uring 2009, Ayn Rand’s 52-year-old novel

Atlas Shrugged

ranked as high as #33 on’

s top-selling books list. The

story of a dystopian United States provides a

timely example of government intervention

through economic policy and regulation.

Today it is especially relevant to the domestic power

and communication industry given the significant and

broad government influence on the design and con-

struction of this infrastructure.

FMI forecasts a very modest combined growth of 1.5

percent for power transmission and distribution and

communications related construction in 2010 (Exhibit

1). Obviously, this is not the double-digit figures hoped

for, and in many ways expected, as a result of the

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

For those of us in the construction industry, the low

growth rate is not a surprise given the slow speed of

the stimulus funds roll out.

While the overall forecasted growth in 2010 is low,

the individual performance of each sector and its sub-

sectors varies significantly. As an example, replacement

pipeline and electric transmission activity are demon-

strating growth at much higher levels than the com-

munications market, which FMI forecasts to continue

shrinking in 2010. Growth in all sectors is negatively

impacted by the excess housing inventory, which FMI

does not anticipate being absorbed until 2011, at which

point gas and electric distribution and telecom sectors

will rebound.

The governmental impact on the electric and gas

T&D markets and the telecom market is significant, far

reaching, and certainly not what Ayn Rand would have

preferred. At the federal level, there is generally a more

positive impact on design and construction spending

(Exhibit 2). State, local, and municipal impacts tend to

serve as more significant obstacles. The lone exception

is public utility commissions, where the number of fa-

vorable rulings in rate cases has increased dramatically

Power & Communication Construction:

Where Are We Headed?

By Mark Bridgers and Dan Tracey

Continued on page 8

“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act—not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation



will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”

– President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009