American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) is making big moves while embracing new ideas like no one else in the utility space when it comes to safeguarding critical energy infrastructure and power distribution. Leadership is something that is not widely acknowledged in the utility sector due to the diverse nature of modern energy. However, CEO Nick Akins is doing a great job of leading by championing the need for cybersecurity within the energy sector and calling for a national interstate transmission line system.

25% of American's electric generation capacity comes from older coal plants that will be retired in the next two years. This means Akins' team may be more willing to embrace new technological innovations to achieve better energy efficiency and grid resiliency. With a preference for natural gas over coal, American is positioned very strongly to benefit from the Utica Shale play. Therefore despite the company's manufacturing and industrial business segments being laggards for the company, I'm expecting a turnaround in 2014 that should make American the marquee name in the utility space.