Portland General Electric Company (POR) generates, transmits and distributes electricity to 1.9 million people in the state of Oregon. The company’s service area covers 46% of the state’s population and includes 4,000 square miles and 51 cities, including Portland and Salem. Portland generates power from gas, hydro, wind, solar and coal, and is investing more in reliable and clean energy.
We believe Portland covers a healthy economic region with positive demographic trends, demonstrated by low unemployment, customer growth and above average GDP and population growth. This growth has supported 4% annual dividend increases the last ten years and 6% the last three. As with all regulated utilities, though, we wanted to make sure that the growth will continue and that the regulatory environment is favorable.
Confirmation through research
Much of the area’s growth has come from an influx of technology firms and data centers as they migrate from the Silicon Valley region to more affordable areas. We believe that this trend will continue and will support above average population growth, thus driving greater demand for electricity.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission determines Portland’s allowed return on equity. So far, the regulatory environment has been favorable and the three Governor-appointed commissioners have positions through 2019, 2020 and 2021. Historically, the company has grown earnings at a 5-7% rate and there is an opportunity for higher growth if Portland wins a wind RFP later this year.
We believe that Portland’s unique growth profile and geography make it a strong takeout candidate. Even without a takeout, we believe that Portland will continue to grow the dividend and earnings supported by positive local economic conditions.