Most retirees will need about 70% of their pre-retirement income to sustain their lifestyle, according to many financial advisors. Social Security, however, will only replace about 40% of that income. That means retirees have a substantial gap to bridge if they want to maintain their current standard of living.

One way to do that is by investing in high-yield dividend stocks. Three excellent options are energy infrastructure companies Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB), and TerraForm Power (NASDAQ:TERP). This trio pays above-average dividends that they should be able to grow at a healthy rate in the future.

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A big raise coming in 2020, with solid growth after that

Kinder Morgan's dividend currently yields 4.9%. The midstream oil and gas company supports that payout with very stable cash flow given that long-term contracts provide it with about 90% of its annual income. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan currently pays out less than half of its cash flow via the dividend. That leaves it with plenty of money to invest in expansion projects.

The company expects to spend $3.1 billion on energy infrastructure growth projects this year, which will help boost its cash flow. That growing earnings stream, along with a higher payout ratio, will enable the company to raise its dividend by 25% next year. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan anticipates that it can secure between $2 billion and $3 billion of new growth projects per year, which at a minimum will enable the company to grow earnings by 4% annually. Supporting that view is the outlook that energy companies will need to invest $44 billion per year through 2035 in building new midstream infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines. This forecast suggests that Kinder Morgan can provide retirees with a steadily growing income stream for many years to come.

Healthy growth prospects

Williams Companies also focuses on the midstream oil and gas sector, though it primarily operates natural gas pipelines. Those systems provide the company with very stable cash flow, with 97% of its earnings backed by long-term contracts. That gives Williams the cash to pay an attractive dividend that currently yields 5.8%. Meanwhile, the company only pays out about 60% of that money each year, leaving it with ample excess to finance expansion projects.

In Williams' view, it can secure enough new expansions to grow its earnings at a 5% to 7% annual rate after this year. That should allow the company to increase its dividend at a similar pace. Driving that forecast is the outlook that the industry will need to invest $23 billion per year on new natural gas infrastructure through 2035.

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A five-year dividend growth plan

TerraForm Power, meanwhile, operates wind farms and solar power projects. The company sells most of the power it generates under long-term contracts to customers such as utilities. Currently, those contracts lock in about 95% of its cash flow. That gives the company a very steady income stream to support its dividend, which currently yields 5.3%.

The renewable energy company aims to pay out between 80% and 85% of its cash flow in dividends each year. That leaves it with some excess to invest in growth opportunities. Those expansion-related initiatives, when combined with the company's efforts to improve the profitability of its existing assets, should enable it to increase its dividend at a 5% to 8% annual rate through 2022. Meanwhile, the company can enhance its growth prospects by making needle-moving acquisitions. It recently did just that, spending $720 million for a portfolio of solar projects in a deal that will boost its cash flow over the next five years. Future acquisitions could enable TerraForm Power to grow its already high-yielding dividend at or above the high-end of its guidance range.

Growing income streams

These energy infrastructure companies are ideal options for retirees. First, each pays a well above average dividend supported by long-term contracts. In addition to that, they each retain a meaningful portion of their cash flow to reinvest in expansion projects. That should enable them to grow their cash flows and dividends in the future. They should therefore be able to provide retirees with a growing income stream that will help them supplement social security.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.