Forest Fires Have Utilities Seeking Solutions (VKIN, PGE, CNP, NI, ETR)

September 19 13:08 2022

The images of wildfires blazing across the United States have seemed to become a daily occurrence on the evening news. Just in the last two years, close to 40,000 wildfires have burned their way through 3.5 million acres of land. While there are many sources of wildfires, weather, campfires, even improperly discarded cigarettes, a major source of preventable wildfires is malfunctioning utility equipment. 

Utilities organizations across the country, especially in areas prone to wildfires are taking initiative to prevent more damage being done to these lands.

Investors may want to take note of companies actively pursuing solutions in this industry. Viking Energy (OTC-VKIN) has developed technology that allows Utility companies to combat the dangers of open transmission wires in an electrical grid system. The Open Conductor Technology reduces wildfires by quickly detecting a faulty line within the grid, and de-energizing the line, in under a second, before contact is made with a foreign structure. This eliminates the fear of sparks from downed power lines and eliminates power surges, and preemptive blackouts due to inclement weather. These technological innovations should put Viking Energy on the investment communities radar.

Other companies that are looking to make moves that better position themselves to combat future wildfires caused by Utilities. Pacific Gas & and Electric (NYSE-PGE) is a key player as they are centered in California, a state that has been plagued by wildfires over the last decade. PG&E has committed to undergrounding 10,000 miles of overhead power lines, this will lessen the probability of a spark caused fire. 

While Utility companies have returned an average gain of 2% this year, CenterPoint Energy (NYSE-CNP) has gained about 13.6% this year, outperforming its sector. 

Savvy investors will want to pay attention to Utility companies that are committed to reducing risks of fires, blackouts or surges through infrastructure investment. NiSource (NI-NYSE) made capital investments worth $1.9 Billion in 2021, and estimates $40 Billion in long term natural gas and electric infrastructure investments, driving earnings beyond 2024.

Another strong player in the market is Entergy (ETR-NYSE), which has just completed the longest underground project in company history, adding to the list of upgrades they have made to improve the reliability of their electric system. 

Investors looking to get into the Utilities market should pay attention to companies that are investing in their own future amongst a changing landscape. Investors may want to keep an eye on VKIN as they continue to develop technologies for the future.


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