Earlier this fall, Utility Dive examined CEO salaries at nearly 40 investor-owned utilities, showing that pay continues to trend higher. Is the same true for utility revenue? Comparing the Fortune 500 list in 2017 and this year shows that as a group, the top-performing utilities’ revenue continues to increase, although many of their rankings have fallen.
Some 23 utilities appear on the list this year, with combined 2021 revenue of $321.5 billion, a 13.4% increase over 2016, when 22 utilities were on the list. (Fortune uses revenue from the previous year to rank companies, thus the 2017 and 2022 lists are based on 2016 and 2021 revenues.)
Exelon Corp. is the highest-ranked utility company on the 2022 list at No. 99. It was down 10 spots from its ranking on the 2017 list despite reporting $5 billion more in revenue than it posted five years ago. Ameren Corp. in St. Louis is the last utility to make the 2022 list, at No. 500, with $6.39 billion in revenue.
The top four utility companies on the annual list — Exelon, Duke Energy Corp., Southern Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. — did not change position from the 2021 list to the 2022 list, although each fell in rank. American Electric Power Co., which was ranked the sixth-largest utility last year, and fifth in 2017, traded places with NextEra Energy.
Three utilities reported less revenue in 2022 compared with 2017: AES Corp., down 22%; FirstEnergy Corp., down 24% and PPL Corp., down 5%. The two utilities that moved up in rank were DTE Energy, which went from No. 272 in 2017 to No. 239 this year, and UGI, unranked in 2017, which was No. 455 this year.
Factors such as weather, fuel costs, region, and rate cases affect utility revenue, said Paul Patterson, an analyst at Glenrock Associates in New York. Also, as regulated monopolies, utilities are "not like other companies," he said. "There are just a lot of things happening.”