The 40 Best Energy Companies

(September 2011) Our annual ranking tracks the publicly traded electric and gas companies that produce the greatest value for shareholders. Despite the year’s topsy-turvy financial markets, perennial performers like DPL, PPL and Exelon return to the top of the list. Others face looming cap-ex burdens as regulators impose new mandates and requirements. Leading companies are positioning for growth, despite a challenging landscape.

Seismic Omen

Fukushima shockwaves hit America’s nuclear renaissance.

In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, questions are arising about the safety and survivability of reactors located in geologically active areas. Major changes might be required, and as a result the U.S. nuclear industry might face an existential challenge on the order of the Three Mile Island accident.

Spent-Fuel Fedcorp

The Blue Ribbon Commission’s best answer for the nuclear waste dilemma.

As the Fukushima-Daiichi crisis unfolds, the U.S. DOE’s Blue Ribbon Commission is preparing its initial recommendations on how America should deal with its commercial nuclear waste. Early indicators suggest it will endorse the so-called fedcorp model—creating an independent federal corporation, similar to TVA. But a fedcorp structure, by itself, won’t resolve the spent-fuel dilemma. Success will require a strong mandate, consistent funding—and a totally new approach to siting and management.

A Beautiful Mess

Only the fittest solutions survive in America’s policy wilderness.

All things being equal, momentous events like the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Arab spring would bring fundamental changes in U.S. energy policy. But things aren’t equal, and they never will be under America’s democratic and capitalistic process. Frustrating? Maybe, but it’s the only way to ensure our decisions are based on sound economic and environmental principles.

The Art of the Plausible

Prospects for clean energy legislation in 2011.

With budget battles heating up in Washington, Congress and the Obama administration are squaring off to debate energy policy legislation. While Democratic leadership favors a clean energy standard, Republican lawmakers are focused on blocking administration initiatives to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. A compromise approach might bring substantial changes to America’s national energy strategy.

Here Be Dragons

Life, death and nuclear fallout.

Because we can’t define the consequences of nuclear accidents — and because radioactivity is invisible and undetectable without a Geiger counter — nuclear power’s risks are like shadowy monsters of unknown proportions, inspiring irrational fear. But that’s no excuse for complacency. Learning the lessons of Fukushima-Daiichi requires first acknowledging that we might have overestimated our ability to manage nuclear risks.