The health care debate is hardly behind us, but Washington is starting to turn its policy-crafting attention to energy and climate issues. In fact, we are still near the beginning of a gradual shift in focus to debate that will favor smart grid companies in 2010.
Domestic and international political will are now decisively in favor of action to establish clean energy benchmarks every nation will be expected to meet.
The UN Copenhagen Climate Conference in December demands serious preparation to develop national goals, and the growing consensus among developed countries and even among U.S. states with renewable portfolio standards favors a 20% clean energy contribution to the worldwide energy mix by 2020.
States like Kansas that now have their own "20×20" mandates can’t just start putting up wind turbines and slapping solar panels on roofs if they want to get to 20% renewables efficiently. . . first, smart states are looking into smart grid planning, and calling for some of the $4.5 billion in economic stimulus package funds available for extensive overhauls to electricity infrastructure.
Homeowners will be able to save money through off-peak consumption while potentially generating surplus that can be sold back to the grid. It’s not a pipe dream, either.
On Tuesday, October 20, The New York Times featured Boulder, Colorado and its local utility Xcel, which claims to have made Boulder the "first fully functioning smart city in the world" through computerized household readouts and a nerve network of load monitoring sensors.
At the federal level, on October 16, the Senate approved a $33.5 bill to beef up the nation’s clean energy and water resource infrastructure. Two days later, the Times highlighted the infighting now taking place among traditionally cohesive energy powers. As energy reform comes down the pike, it’s coal vs. natural gas, natgas vs. oil, and all of them vs. renewables. . .
You know what rises above the fray, and can even unite them all? Smart grid companies! Their whole purpose is to balance multiple resource types as they patch into local grids.
No wonder we see such performance in smart grid stocks lately. EnerNOC (NASDAQ:ENOC) leads Comverge (NASDAQ:COMV), American Superconductor (NASDAQ:AMSC) and ABB (NYSE:LTD).
And all of them are beating the breakthrough Dow, even as it climbed 30% since late April.
Expect the smart grid market advantage to stay intact into 2010.