Infrastructure, Renewables, And The Utility Sector

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Of all the industries that would benefit from the proposed boost in federal infrastructure spending, renewable energy developers and producers arguably need a jump-start the least. Every large electric and natural gas utility, for example, has already pledged to be “carbon neutral” at least by 2050. And US utilities are already well on their way toward installing the needed wind, solar, and energy storage capacity to get there.

America’s leading wind and solar developer NextEra Energy (NEE), for example, added 1.84 gigawatts of new projects during Q2, bringing its total backlog to 15 GW. The company is also more than 40% of the way toward its goal of installing 30 million solar panels by 2030 at its south Florida utility unit.

And Dominion Energy (D) has $72 billion in renewable energy rate base opportunities through 2035, including grid upgrades, solar development, and offshore wind.

But while they may not need the money, these companies’ plans are already underway. That means they know where to spend whatever federal dollars they receive and should do so efficiently. And that potentially means a bigger earnings benefit than other industries where the way forward to growth is less clear, for example with earnings-less fuel cell developers.

All of the electric utilities in our model portfolios have become major investors in renewable energy. Dominion and Duke Energy (DUK) have the most compelling opportunity for rate base spending, meaning their main challenge is keeping regulators happy and executing project construction. We would say buy up to 85 and 100, respectively.

AES Corp. (AES), Algonquin Power & Utilities (AQN), Avangrid (AGR), and NextEra present a hybrid opportunity combining big projected regulated rate base spending with extensive and rapidly expanding unregulated contract generation.

And Atlantica Sustainable (AY), Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP), Clearway Energy (CWEN), and Enel SpA (ENLAY) are contract renewable energy generators with extensive project pipelines.

They’ll fuel at least mid-to-upper single digit dividend growth to mid-decade, regardless of how much Uncle Sam decides to spend. All but Atlantica and NextEra currently trade below my recommended entry points and rate buys now.

Renewable energy generation and fuels are still a relatively small piece of electricity and heating markets. But their economics are now established to the extent they’re the fastest growing by far.

The leading companies highlighted above don’t need federal dollars to continue developing them. But what they do receive will fire up growth further. And the potential for such a big influx as what’s being voted on by Congress is another good reason to look into all of these stocks.

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