General Electric: Seeking to Define the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen General Electric (GE) is a standout company that supplies products and services in the alternative energy and environmental fields. GE also has a robust stake in smart grid technology; its energy division alone has products that include power delivery, smart metering, charging systems, and power sensing. According to Cleantech, GE is a player in 5 of the 6 critical business areas affecting smart grid development.   As part of their commitment to shape the future of the smart grid, GE committed $200 million for entrepreneurs, students and other innovators as a “call to action” for...

CyberTerrorism and the Smart Grid

Is There a Crack in the (Fire)Wall? Joyce Pellino Crane Last December when 325,000 Massachusetts homes went dark for days on end, I finally understood the transformative powers of electricity. For starters, my hair went limp when the blow dryer didn't turn on, my laundry piled high, my food froze in the garage, and my stove was stone cold. After five days of living like Pioneer Woman, I got tired of waiting for the utility company to restring snapped cable wires, and checked into a hotel. The nation's electric power grid is a hodgepodge of...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #2 National Grid (NGG)

Like Quanta Services, (#8 in this series), National Grid PLC (NYSE:NGG) allows investors to participate in the massive build out of electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure necessitated by years of neglect and the growing need to decarbonize our electric infrastructure.  See the article linked above for more detail on these two forces driving the sector. Having its origins in British electricity deregulation in the 1990s, Nation Grid is a regulated utility in Britain and the United States, and operates high pressure gas pipelines and high voltage transmission in Britain, and electricity transmission and natural gas distribution in the Northeastern...

Clean Energy Stocks to Fill the Nuclear Gap

Tom Konrad, CFA If the Japanese use less nuclear power, what will take its place? I'm astounded by the resilience and discipline of the Japanese people in response to the three-pronged earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, perhaps in large part by my cultural roots in the egocentric United States, where we seem to have forgotten the virtue of self-sacrifice for the greater good.  Yet while Japanese society has shown itself to be particularly resilient, the Japanese electric grid is much less resilient.  According to International Energy Agency statistics, Japan produced 258 TWh of electricity from...

Is the New Smart Grid ETF GRID All That Smart?

Tom Konrad, CFA First Trust Launched a Grid Infrastructure Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) on November 17th.  Although the First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Smart Grid Infrastructure Index Fund (Nasdaq: GRID) is labeled a "Smart Grid" ETF to capture popular excitement around smart grid technology, it covers the whole grid infrastructure sector.  This broader focus is good for clean energy investors. I've been an advocate of investing in electric transmission and smart gird stocks since early 2007, and for almost a year now, a regular reader has been telling me to create a transmission ETF so he can buy...

If I Could Own Only One Alternative Energy Stock, It Would Be . ....

Bill Paul My friend Consuelo Mack, host of "Consuelo Mack's Wealthtrack" on PBS TV, asks her guests for their "one investment pick." What's my one alternative energy stock pick? A year ago on Consuelo's show, I recommended LED lighting developer Cree Inc. (Symbol CREE), because the LED lighting market (part of the burgeoning energy efficiency sector) is expected to hit upwards of $5 billion by 2013 v. $600 million in 2008, according to investment banking firm Merriman, Curhan, Ford, and because Cree was then an attractive takeover candidate. It still is; however, since the stock has since risen something...
demand charge impacts on DC Fast Charger costs

EV Fast Charging Disincentives

by Daryl Roberts DC Fast Chargers (DCFCs) and Tesla superchargers are a key element in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure that could facilitate wider adoption of EVs by enabling recharging that comes to resemble the time currently taken for gas station stops, and thereby reducing “range anxiety” for drivers. However, the pricing structure for electrical costs incurred at commercial DC fast chargers is currently prohibitive, because it includes a special fee called a “demand charge”. Rate design in a number of states includes this additional charge, based on the “peak rate” on electric power consumed in kW. In New York,...
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Bargain Priced Alternative Energy Stocks

A review of Crystal Equity Research’s novel alternative energy indices found a number of companies that have delivered exceptional price appreciation over the last year.  Several were reviewed in the recent post “Alternative Returns” on May 8th.  Expectations for growth appeared to be driving the price movement, so the last post “Quest for Growth” featured four companies from the indices for which analysts have posted high growth predictions.  Not unexpectedly some investors have already bid higher the stocks of those promising companies. In this post we go back to the lists to find the companies with both high growth predictions and low price-earnings...

How to Invest in the Pickens Plan

A friend recently asked me how to invest in the Pickens Plan.  I named a stock (see below). He then surprised me by saying "You are the fifth person I've asked, and no one else knew how.  Several said it could not be done." You can invest in T. Boone Pickens's plan.  Here's how: The Plan T. Boone's plan is both simple and audacious.   We will build wind farms all over the Great Plains. Build the necessary transmission to get that electricity to cities, displacing natural gas used in electricity generation for the use in automobiles.   This will...

EESAT And Energy Storage Opportunities On The Smart Grid

John Petersen Last week I appeared as a luncheon speaker at EESAT 2009, a biennial international technical conference sponsored by the DOE, Sandia National Laboratories and the Electricity Storage Association that focuses on storage technologies for utility applications. The conference included dozens of high-level technical presentations from storage technology developers and was far and away the best-organized event I've ever attended. The only notable absence was a large contingent of buyers, which left some participants wondering whether they were preaching to the choir. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by rapid growth in the number and size of utility-scale demonstration...

How Are We Doing On Our Stimulus Plan Stocks So Far?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a series of two articles on the yet-to-be-unveiled Obama stimulus package for the economy, arguing that things pointed in the direction of massive infrastructure spending with a green twist. I argued that this would benefit a certain categories of rail-related stocks and electric grid stocks. How am I doing relative to the market as a whole, which has had several positive trading days for the past while on the back of the eventual stimulus plan?    Railway Stocks I discussed four railway stocks in an article published on October 18....

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part IV: General Cable

Tom Konrad, CFA General Cable (BGC) is a strong grid stock that's suddenly looking a lot cheaper.  Time to buy? General Cable is not only one of my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2010, it was also holding it's own in my list of "strong grid" (that is, electricity transmission) stocks that have strong financials.  About 59% of the company's revenues come from what I would consider "strong grid" markets: their "electrical utility" and "electrical transmission" segments.  I published the most recent version of that list on February 11.  In both these articles I cautioned that I...

Grid-based Energy Storage: Widely Misunderstood Challenges and Opportunities

John Petersen The most widely misunderstood subject in the field of energy storage is the potential for grid-based applications. They fire the imagination because the grid is so pervasive and the need is so great. They also present immense challenges to storage technology developers because the fundamental economic value per unit of grid-based energy storage is very low. While the subject of grid-based storage provides rich fodder for media reports and political posturing, the reality bears little relation to the perception. On March 9th, Lux Research published a sorely needed reality check in a new report titled "Grid...

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part VI: Will the Real Strong Grid...

Tom Konrad, CFA For clean electricity to flourish, the electric grid needs not only to be smarter, but more robust.  This is where my strong grid stocks come in.  But stringing wires for power is a lot like stringing wires for telecommunications as well a large number of other businesses which do not have much to do with the energy trends I hope will boost the long term prospect of these companies.  Knowing how much these companies earn from grid infrastructure helps predict how much they will benefit from the trend. Unlike many of the financial statistics...

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Energy Efficient

The Solar Investment Tax Credit has been extended, and the market for mortgage debt "rescued," but neither renewable energy nor the rest of the economy are out of the woods.  We'll probably be feeling the effects of the financial imbalances which have built up in our economy for years to come. While the extension of the tax credit will help renewable energy technologies raise funding, the headwinds from the continued fallout of the structured finance and real estate bubble will be blowing in the other direction.  This will be a problem both for developers of new technologies, and...

Comverge, Diverge, or Merge?

Tom Konrad CFA Comverge (COMV) has a great residential demand response business.  The company lacks focus, but the stock has significant upside as an acquisition target. As part of my ongoing series on energy management companies (see these articles on World Energy Solutions (XWES) and EnerNOC (ENOC)) I spoke with Comverge CEO Blake Young. The Comverge Advantage Comverge is the strong leader in residential demand response (DR,) one of the most cost effective grid stability solutions.  Even within demand response, residential DR is an excellent niche, because working in the market for residential DR...