Bob, Eli is referring to natural gas competing with electricity for various household and business energy services, including heating and cooling (HVAC), which gas can easily provide today, as well as electricity generation, which gas may also soon be competitively providing via fuel cells, microturbines and other gas-fueled distributed generation technologies.
No one is talking about returning to the "dark ages" before the advent of electricity! I'd challenge you to step out of this binary between electric utilities as they exist today (and basically have since the days of Edison and Tesla) and the kind of dark age you envision a pre-dating the emergence of the electric utility sector. There are any number of possible "utilities of the future" that may emerge through an evolution of the power sector. What's happening now in Europe is likely just the first glimpse of what may come, or at least the kinds of forces driving evolutionary change.
And remember, this isn't just my speculation: my article cites two reports from the electric power sector itself - Eurelectric and Edison Electric Institute, which collectively represent the largest utilities in the world. So I'd encourage you to check out those reports for more...