Among the key ingredients to a happy, successful retirement are reliable sources of income that are enough to cover your expenses. Unfortunately, some of your costs are likely to keep rising over time. Meanwhile, many sources of retirement income tend to be relatively fixed. The gaps between those costs and income sources can cause some stress.

One potential solution to this dilemma is investing in dividend-paying companies that have a history of regularly increasing their payouts.  Brookfield Infrastructure (NYSE:BIP)(NYSE:BIPC)Camden Properties (NYSE:CPT), and Xcel Energy (NASDAQ:XEL) should deliver steady dividend growth for years to come -- making them perfect for retirees' portfolios.

A jar of coins with the word dividends written on the front.

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Plenty of power to produce steady dividend growth

Brookfield Infrastructure operates a globally diversified portfolio of mission-critical infrastructure assets like power lines, toll roads, ports, pipelines, data centers, and communications sites. These assets generate relatively steady cash flows backed by long-term fixed-rate contracts or government-regulated rates. Those stable sources support a dividend that, at the company's current share price, yields 3.7%. 

Management believes it can grow that payout at a 5% to 9% annual rate over the long term. Several factors support that outlook. First, it expects to increase the cash flows from its legacy assets by 6% to 9% per year. Supporting that view are contracted rates that will rise with inflation, planned expansion projects, and the company's ability to maximize its earnings via cost reductions and other initiatives. On top of that, Brookfield believes it can tack another 1% to 5% onto its bottom line each year through its capital recycling program. That strategy involves Brookfield selling mature businesses and redeploying the cash into higher-returning investment opportunities. This plan will enable Brookfield to maintain its top-tier balance sheet and enhance the long-term sustainability of its steadily growing payout.

This REIT has a bright future

Camden Property Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that largely owns apartment communities in some of the country's fastest-growing markets. It currently has more than 56,000 apartments in 14 major markets. These include 13 of the 20 markets with the biggest projected population gains over the next few years.

That focus on locales experiencing rapid population growth should support high occupancy levels and steady rent growth in its communities. It should also enable Camden to continue investing in new developments to support even faster cash flow growth. The company is currently investing more than $1 billion across 10 development projects. Meanwhile, it has another six projects representing more than $700 million of investment potential in its pipeline. It has ample financial flexibility to fund these developments because it has one of the best balance sheets in the REIT industry. As a result, Camden should have no problem continuing to grow its 2.8%-yielding dividend for years to come.

Investing in the green energy transition

Xcel Energy largely delivers electricity and natural gas to customers in the Midwest. The company's utility operations generate stable cash flow backed by government-regulated rates. That business supports the company's 2.6%-yielding dividend.

Xcel Energy expects to grow its earnings per share at a 5% to 7% annual rate through at least 2025. That should support similar yearly dividend increases. Powering that plan is a multibillion-dollar expansion program to enhance its operations and slowly transition its fuel sources to cleaner, renewable energy options. It has ample capacity to finance that plan thanks to its relatively conservative dividend payout ratio and investment-grade balance sheet.

The company has set ambitious goals to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 and to be a net-zero carbon producer by 2050. It aims to exit coal and shift to emissions-free alternatives like renewables and emerging technologies such as green hydrogen to achieve those targets. This bold plan suggests that Xcel should steadily grow its earnings in the years ahead, supporting consistent dividend growth.

The perfect dividend options with retirement in mind

All three of these companies' dividends have yields well above the current average for the S&P 500, and those payouts are backed by businesses that generate gobs of steady cash flow. On top of that, they have conservative payout ratios and rock-solid balance sheets. Those factors put their payouts on solid ground, and give the companies the financial flexibility to invest in growing their businesses. That should provide them with more fuel to increase their dividends over time, providing retired investors with sources of growing income to meet their growing financial needs.  

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.