Outside of companies that sell you gas, like ExxonMobil and Shell, or the local utility that keeps your lights on, most Americans don't know the names of the businesses that are shaping our energy story. Today we're taking a look at three names you may not be familiar with, but should get to know going forward.
1. Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE )
Americans know Exxon because the company's name is plastered on every other gas station from here to wherever it is your going. You probably don't see too many signs for Clean Energy Fuels on the off ramp, but you may soon. The company is leading the charge for natural gas fueling stations, building both compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas facilities across America. The company fuels over 30,000 vehicles a day at its 300 stations .
Clean Energy Fuels' role in our lives will continue to grow as countless American corporations are building out their natural-gas-powered truck fleets, and auto manufacturers begin to offer duel fuel vehicles. General Motors (NYSE: GM ) for example, plans to offer its 2015 Chevrolet Impala with one fuel tank for gasoline and one for compressed natural gas .
2. Quanta Services (NYSE: PWR )
If you're wondering what company is responsible for building our energy infrastructure -- everything from pipelines to power lines -- look no further than Quanta Services.
As it happens, our energy infrastructure is in pretty bad shape right now. Not only do we need more pipelines to handle the flow of booming oil and gas production, but our electric grid currently sports the grade of "D+", according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. That might explain why Quanta Services has an electric power project backlog worth $5.3 billion right now.
The company is responsible for connecting new wind and solar farms to the grid, and should play an important role as our local energy sources continue to diversify in the future.
3. Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI )
Did you know that one of the most energy-efficient buildings in all of New York City is the 82-year old Empire State Building? It's true, and we know that it's true because Johnson Controls has been monitoring the iconic landmark's retrofit for two years now. The company not only provides energy efficient equipment for buildings, but its Global WorkPlace Solutions unit provides energy management services for big businesses as well.
All over the country, companies are working with Johnson Controls to reduce their energy footprint across their physical workspace, and as a result, energy efficiency is big business -- some analysts predict the market could grow to $245 billion per year by 2020. That Empire State Building retrofit I mentioned earlier? Not only has it increased the property value at 350 5th Avenue, but its tenants are on their way to saving around $4.4 million dollars every year as energy costs are on track to drop by 38 %.
There are plenty of energy companies out there that don't make the headlines, yet play a vital role in our daily life. Some of them, like the three listed above, might even make great additions to your portfolio.
One more under-the-radar energy stock
The market stormed out to huge gains across 2013, leaving investors on the sidelines burned. However, opportunistic investors can still find huge winners. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has hand-picked one such opportunity in our new report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." To find out which stock it is and read our in-depth report, simply click here. It's free!