Playing the ‘Global Grid Game’ – Japan’s NGK, GE Majority-Owned Indo Tech Look Strong

Maintaining and expanding the world's electric power grids in order to avoid stupendous blackouts, add gigawatts of green power, and bring electricity to a billion additional people, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. Retrofitting just the U.S. power grid will cost $130 billion, estimates the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). China has earmarked $135 billion to upgrade and expand its high-voltage grid. India will need to spend billions if it has any hope of reaching its goal of increasing electrical generation capacity to 200 GW by 2012 from roughly 150 GW currently. Among...

The Grid Impacts of Net Metering

Net metering describes the requirement that an electric utility buy electricity from any of its customers that generate their own electricity (usually with some sort of renewable energy, such as solar or wind) at the same price that they sell it to the customer.  That seems fair, doesn't it? The Utility Perspective It doesn't seem fair to the utility.  Utilities do more than just generate and sell electricity to customers.  They also are responsible for transmission (delivering the electricity) and reliability (making sure that the lights work when you flip the switch.) Taking just the reliability requirement, suppose that...

Climate Change & Corporate Disclosure: Should Investors Care?

Charles Morand On Monday morning, I received an e-copy of a new research note by BofA Merrill Lynch arguing that disclosure by publicly-listed companies on the issue of climate change was becoming increasingly "important". The note claimed: "e believe smart investors and companies will recognize the edge they can gain by understanding low carbon trends." I couldn't agree more with that statement. It was no coincidence that on that same day the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit UK-based organization that surveys public companies each year on the state of their climate change awareness, was...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #8 Quanta Services, Inc....

It may be a stretch to call a company with a P/E ratio in the high 30s "cheap," but in the case of Quanta Services (NYSE:PWR), it's a bargain.   I won't repeat myself about why electric transmission and distribution (T&D) investments are a good bet.  Put simply, the grid has been long neglected, and improved long distance transmission is essential to bringing large scale renewables such as solar and wind onto the grid. How does Quanta fit in?  They build transmission line for utilities.  When I ask industry insiders what company is best placed to actually string the wires...

The Value of Net Metered Electricity in New York

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D. Net metering is unfair and is dangerous for the long term health of utilities, at least according to Raymond Wuslich, when he spoke at the 2015 Renewable Energy Conference in Poughkeepsie, NY.  Wustlich is an attorney and partner at Winston & Strawn, LLP., and advises clients across the electricity and natural gas industries on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) matters. To make his point, Wuslich used a simplified New York residential electric bill.  In this simplified bill, the customer was charged 12¢ per kWh for...

Demand Planning: The Future of Demand Side Management

Electric utilities have a process by which they project future expected demand for electricity, and then find resources, either new electric generation or energy efficiency (Demand Side Management, or DSM) resources to meet that expected demand, or reduce that demand.  Progressive utilities and utility regulators now include DSM among the mix of resources as a matter of course.  According to Martin Kushler, of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) who spoke at the Southwest Regional Energy Efficiency Workshop about an upcoming report from ACEEE, DSM resources cost an average of 3 cents per kWh of energy...

Solar Inverter Shakeout: 3 Survivors, 2 Buyers, a Loser and a Wildcard

Tom Konrad CFA Inverter for a solar array. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Solar inverter stocks are looking cheap, but until the weaker players are forced out, they are likely to get cheaper. The major publicly traded solar inverter companies are Power-One (NASD:PWER), Satcon (NASD:SATC), SMA Solar (OTC:SMTGF), Siemens (NYSE:SI), Advanced Energy Industries (NASD:AEIS), Schneider Electric (OTC:SBGSF) and upstart Enphase Energy (NASD:ENPH).  Over the  last year the industry has faced eroding margins and an increasingly competitive environment.  This parallels the problems of solar manufacturers: the industry has too much...

Understanding the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen The modernization of the electric grid is an exciting investment opportunity that promises to be one of the biggest energy investment stories of the early 21st century. Smart Grid systems will provide large growth opportunities for many companies around the globe. This is being accomplished through a combination of updating existing technologies along with the creation of new systems aimed at improving the quality of the electric grid. By understanding how the dream of a smart grid will become a reality, an informed investor will be in a very good position to...
Smart meter for smart grid applications

List of Smart Grid Stocks

Smart grid stocks are publicly traded companies that use or enable information technology to operate the electric grid more efficiently.  They are also included in the list of electric grid stocks. Advanced Energy Industries (AEIS) AMSC (AMSC) Arrow Electronics (ARW) Digi International (DGII) Echelon Corporation (ELON) EnSync, Inc. (ESNC) ESCO Technologies, Inc. (ESE) Itron (ITRI) Landis+Gyr Group AG (LAND.SW) Schneider Electric (SU.PA, SBGSF, SBGSY) SMA Solar Technology (S92.DE) SolarEdge (SEDG) Superconducting Technologies, Inc. (SCON) If you know of any smart grid stock that is not listed here and should be, please let us know by leaving a comment. Also for stocks in the list that you think should be removed.  

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part V: Hubbell Inc.

Tom Konrad, CFA Hubbell Inc. (HUB-B) is a strong grid stock that also has strong financials, signaled by a recent dividend increase. I came across Hubbell Inc. (HUB-B) when researching General Cable (BGC) for my recent article on the company.  Just one more example of when you start researching a sector, (in this case electrical transmission and distribution, or "strong grid") you never know what new companies you may find. Hubbell is a diversified electrical supplier, serving electric utility, residential, commercial, and industrial markets worldwide.  About a quarter (26%) of its revenue comes from the "Power...

SMA Solar’s Transformerless Inverter Provides Power During Outages

Ed Gunther From Solar Light Flashes: SPI12 Edition Sunny Boy TL-US Inverter SMA Solar Technology AG (ETR:S92) will begin limited shipments of the transformerless Sunny Boy 3000/4000/5000TL-US-22 inverter series for 3 to 5 kiloWatt rated AC power PV systems in 4Q12. The TL-US series has added a unique Emergency Power Supply feature providing daytime power to a dedicated power socket in the event of a grid power outage. The power socket is isolated from the grid during the outage and supplies up to 12 Amps so long as...

My Portfolio’s Latest Casualty And Addition

The Casualty Last Monday, I discussed how I had recently reviewed Railpower Tech with a view to potentially adding to my position on grounds that: (a) the company had a fair amount of cash in the bank, which reduced the need to go to capital markets for financing for a while; and (b) that it was getting badly battered by general market conditions, potentially offering an attractive entry point. Although my portfolio has taken a beating in recent weeks, I remain ready to take small positions in stocks if I feel they are being unfairly bashed, including in...

Is Ruggedcom, Inc. as Solid as its Networks?

Tom Konrad, CFA Our recent article on Ruggedcom's (RUGGF.PK, RMC.TO) technology for a smart grid that's also robust against a number of threats such as cyberterrorism and electromagnetic pulses prompted a long-time reader to ask if we also think it's a good investment at these prices. Good question.  As outlined in the article, Ruggedcom, Inc. has a robust business providing ruggedized routers for mission-critical networks, including electric utilities growing smart grids.  But not every great business is also a great stock. What Makes a Great Stock There are several things I look for in a great stock, and a...

A Profitable Smart Grid Penny Stock Aims for a NASDAQ Listing

Tom Konrad CFA A NASDAQ listing could bring a quick profit to investors who buy now, but beware the business risk. Ambient Corp. (ABTG.OB) offers an Internet Protocol (IP) smart grid communications platform to electric utilities.  So far, they have exactly one customer: Duke Energy (DUK).  Duke selected Ambient's X-series communication node solution, which flexibly gathers data from multiple smart meters and relays it to the utility.  For instance, in some cases Duke is using Ambient's nodes to gather data from both Echelon Corporation's (ELON) smart meters using data over powerline technology, and Badger Meter's (BMI) smart...

Tres Amigas Proposes Three-way Transmission Link

by Michael Giberson If completed, the Tres Amigas project will encourage renewable power development and efficient power flows.  Publicly traded wind power and superconducting cable company American Superconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: AMSC) is a large minority shareholder and the planned supplier. Tres Amigas LLC has proposed building a three-way superconducting HVDC link between the three separate power systems that span the United States and much of Canada: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and the Texas (ERCOT) Interconnection.  The three systems currently are linked by a small number of separate and relatively unimportant DC interties.  The proposed three-way...

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...