Thursday, June 25, 2009

Key Clean Energy Vote Hours Away

The U.S. House of Representatives votes Friday to determine the fate of the American Clean Energy & Security Act - President Obama's climate change legislation.

Late yesterday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-MN, confirmed a compromise had been reached over difficult agriculture issues in the climate change bill. Peterson stated the votes to pass the bill when the full House meets Friday were in place - although the vote is expected to be close.

The most important plank in the bill - and the most contentious - is a 17 percent mandated reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 -- mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels such as coal.

The 17 percent cap on greenhouse gases would have its greatest impact on utilities which today rely on coal to generate half the country's electric power. By placing a cost on pollution emitted into the atmosphere from the burning of coal, utilities will be mandated to either find ways to cut emissions or shift to clean energy.

The legislation holds the promise of a massive new boost to both the wind and nuclear power industries. Exelon (NYSE:EXC) , the nation's largest nuclear power company, recently exceeded Jefferies & Co's target price of $47, set just 2 months ago on April 15.

Also in April, Concentric Research put a $2.78 one year price target on wind power company NACEL Energy (OTC:NCEN) (BULLETIN BOARD: NCEN) , which has four wind farms underway in the Texas Panhandle - regarded as the nation's best region for wind turbines.

Entergy (NYSE:ETR) also has one of the largest nuclear power portfolio's in the country. Credit Suisse has an $89 target on the company - Entergy closed yesterday at $75.54.

Itron (NASDAQ:ITRI) , which makes sophisticated metering systems for all utilities, is another bet on the passage of the new climate bill. JP Morgan recently upgraded Itron from neutral to overweight.

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