Many utilities operated under a cost-plus arrangement. If they waste more money, they make more profits.
That is why stuff like this has to be prevented.
This is why Bell Labs back in the day got Nobel Prizes. This wasn't corporate philanthropy - at the time they could consider that R&D expenditure part of providing phone service and charge higher rates to recoup it, plus a profit on top. When the rules were changed, Bell Labs died (at least, in the sense of what it used to be).