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Why the Infrastructure Stalemate Hit Nikola and Other Alternative Energy Stocks Today

By Howard Smith – Oct 4, 2021 at 3:10PM

Key Points

  • Uncertainty in Congress has some investors wondering if renewable energy companies will gain more support.
  • Federal funding to build out the nation's hydrogen and solar infrastructure would be a tailwind for these businesses.

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These companies stand to benefit if the infrastructure package is passed.

What happened

The infrastructure bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate experienced another delay last week en route to a vote in the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had planned to vote, and pass, the bill by last Friday, but a stalemate among Democrats is holding up the vote.

Pelosi now said she hopes there is enough agreement for the bill to pass by the end of October. Several alternative energy stocks that would likely benefit from the bill were sinking on news of the delay Monday. As of 12:15 p.m. EDT, shares of electric vehicle maker Nikola (NKLA -1.95%), hydrogen-fuel-cell maker Bloom Energy (BE -1.08%), and solar technology company Enphase Energy (ENPH -1.35%) were down 4.9%, 6.4%, and 5.8%, respectively. 

So what

Delaying the vote has ramifications beyond the infrastructure bill for these names, too. Disagreements over the scope of a broader spending bill that would invest even more in the green energy sector are the underlying cause for the disagreements among congressional Democrats. 

fueling hydrogen into a vehicle.

Image source: Nikola.

The infrastructure bill contains funds designated to replace thousands of public transit vehicles with zero-emission models, CNN reports the White House saying. It also would put $15 billion toward creating a nationwide electric vehicle charging network, and for providing zero- and low-emission buses and ferries, including thousands of electric school buses. The larger $3.5 trillion social safety net bill is opposed by Republicans, but is a priority for progressive Democrats. As proposed, that package would put significant funds toward addressing climate change and would offer citizens incentives to increase their use of renewable energy. 

Now what

Even without the added incentives, Enphase Energy has been growing its residential and commercial solar system business. Its revenue more than doubled in the second quarter, and the company said it expects third-quarter results to rise further -- it forecasts a 9.1% jump sequentially at the midpoint. The company is also growing internationally, with expansions into Brazil and Italy announced in the last week. 

Bloom Energy's on-site electric power solutions business is also growing, with revenue up 21.6% year over year in the second quarter. The company expects to be cash-flow positive near the end of 2021. Bloom is also focusing on growing the hydrogen economy with its hydrogen-powered fuel cells, which offer zero-emission power supplies to businesses. Nikola is also counting heavily on the growth of hydrogen fueling infrastructure for its electric semi-trucks. The company expects to begin selling battery-electric vehicles this year, to be followed by hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. 

Nikola has also invested in a green hydrogen project in Indiana and has been building out a nationwide service network for its vehicles. It has been working to add hydrogen infrastructure partners, including announcing last week new plans for the "development, construction, and operation of hydrogen fueling stations in North America and the use of renewable natural gas (RNG) in hydrogen production" with renewable fuel company OPAL Fuels. 

Each of these companies stands to benefit from both the infrastructure bill as well as any larger package that aims to support green energy development. The current impasse in Congress left investors more pessimistic that either of those packages will pass, at least partially explaining why these stocks were down Monday.

Howard Smith owns shares of Bloom Energy Corp and Nikola Corporation. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Nikola Corporation Stock Quote
Nikola Corporation
NKLA
$2.57 (-1.95%) $0.05
Enphase Energy, Inc. Stock Quote
Enphase Energy, Inc.
ENPH
$316.25 (-1.35%) $-4.34
Bloom Energy Corp Stock Quote
Bloom Energy Corp
BE
$21.06 (-1.08%) $0.23

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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