Shares of Avangrid (AGR) are up over 12% thus far in 2016 and the power player is looking to generate additional profits through new wind farms and higher rates, said the company's CEO Jim Torgerson.
"We have six gigawatts of development sites where we have the land and meteorological data to build wind farms," said Torgerson. "Also we already have contracts for 744 megawatts of wind that will increase our output and we want to put another 600 to 700 megawatts in before 2020."
Avangrid is a diversified energy company operating eight electric and gas utilities in the Northeast. The New Haven, Conn.-based company has operations in 25 states and serves 3.1 million customers. Avangrid was formed last year as a result of the merger between Iberdrola USA and UIL Holdings.
Avangrid's renewable energy subsidiary is the second largest wind energy producer in the U.S. with 5.6 gigawatts of wind generation capacity sited in 53 wind farms in 18 states. Approximately 69% of the capacity is contracted for an average term of nine years.
Earlier this month, UI, a subsidiary of Avangrid, proposed to the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority a new, three-year rate plan that would increase annual rates by $46 million in 2017, $52 million in 2018 and $43 million in 2019. The request is to support infrastructure replacement, system modernization and vegetation management efforts that will help UI to maintain reliability and protect its system against storms.
"Typically you don't always get what you ask for, but we would expect the order to come in by the end of the year and then the new rates would go into effect January 1st," said Torgerson.
Finally, Avangris currently sports a dividend yield of 4%.
"We are paying about 85% of our earnings and we want to get that to 65% to 75%," said Torgerson. "I would think in the next couple of years we should be able to get in that range because we are predicted to grow our earnings 8% to 10% a year. By doing that, we will get the payout ratio down and then we will look at raising the dividend."