Owning dividend-paying stocks can be a great way to generate some passive income. Many companies pay lucrative dividends that stand out for their attractive yield and growth potential. Three great ones to buy right now are Brookfield Infrastructure (NYSE:BIP)(NYSE:BIPC)Enbridge (NYSE:ENB), and Realty Income (NYSE:O).

A highly durable income stream

Brookfield Infrastructure has been an exceptional income stock over the years. The diversified infrastructure operator has grown its payout at an impressive 11% compound annual rate since its formation in 2009. Fueling that growth has been the company's ability to acquire stable infrastructure businesses while using its operational expertise to expand the cash flows they produce. 

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Brookfield believes it can grow its dividend -- which currently yields an attractive 3.7% -- at a 5% to 9% annual pace. Fueling that outlook is its ability to grow its legacy operations' cash flows, which it expects will expand at a 6% to 9% annual rate, powered by inflation escalators in its existing contracts, volume growth, and organic expansion projects. On top of that, the company anticipates continuing to buy infrastructure businesses that supply it with steadily growing streams of stable cash flow. The company has invested $1 billion on new additions to its portfolio over the past year, buying cell towers in India and a stake in a U.S. LNG export facility. Future deals could add an incremental 1% to 5% to its bottom line each year. With a top-notch balance sheet, backed by an investment-grade credit rating and reasonable dividend payout ratio, Brookfield has ample financial flexibility to continue expanding. 

Plenty of fuel to continue growing its dividend amid the energy transition

Enbridge has an even more impressive dividend growth streak. The Canadian energy infrastructure giant has given its investors a raise for 26 straight years, growing its payout at an impressive 10% compound annual rate. Fueling that fast-paced growth has been Enbridge's ability to build and buy new energy-related infrastructure assets like oil and gas pipelines and renewable energy projects.  

While the global economy is transitioning away from fossil fuels, Enbridge believes it has plenty of power to continue growing its 7.6%-yielding dividend. The company has several billion dollars of expansion projects currently in its backlog, including new oil and gas pipelines in North America, expansions to its natural gas utilities, and offshore wind projects in Europe. These projects support its view that it can grow its cash flow per share at a 5% to 7% annual rate through at least 2023. When combined with its investment-grade balance sheet and reasonable dividend payout ratio, Enbridge has the financial flexibility to fund this growth while continuing to increase its dividend.  

The definition of an income stock

Realty Income is as dependable an income stock as investors will find. The real estate investment trust (REIT) has now paid 607 consecutive monthly dividends. Further, the REIT has increased its payout 109 times since its initial public offering in 1994 -- including in each of the last 93 straight quarters -- growing it at a 4.4% compound annual rate during that time. 

Realty Income should continue delivering on its mission of paying dependable monthly income that increases over time. Driving that view is its top-tier balance sheet -- it's one of only eight REITs with A-rated credit -- and reasonable payout ratio. Those factors give it the financial flexibility to continue buying cash-flowing commercial real estate. The company was on track to acquire about $2 billion of properties last year and should be able to continue making acquisitions in those to come. The company sees a massive opportunity to continue buying single-tenant retail properties like dollar stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and home-improvement stores. These deals provide those retailers with the capital needed to keep growing their footprints while supplying Realty Income with stable rental income supported by their essential retail operations. Those future additions should enable Realty Income to continue growing its 4.6%-yielding dividend. 

Great stocks for generating some passive income

Brookfield Infrastructure, Enbridge, and Realty Income have been exceptional income stocks over the years. All three have a long history of growing their payouts. Those upward trends seem likely to continue in the coming years. Add that to their above-average dividend yields, and this trio looks like great income stocks to buy and hold for the long term.

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.