After spending more than a year at no better than a four-star rank, Copano Energy (Nasdaq: CPNO) has impressed enough top-performing members of our 160,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community to climb all the way up to five stars. A total of 312 members have given their opinion on the natural-gas company, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

With Copano's growing coverage of multiple shale plays and its high dividend yield, more CAPS members are liking the midstream services provider's position to benefit from the potential increasing use of domestic natural gas. The company has been investing in expansion projects over the last several quarters in areas such as the Barnett Shale combo play and the Eagle Ford Shale, where it's seen volume increases in both areas.

Producers have also been scurrying to increase activity in the Texas region. The Barnett Shale has attracted foreign interest from Total, and the area is top producer Devon Energy's (NYSE: DVN) largest property, with more wells being drilled this year. Other top producers, such as XTO Energy (NYSE: XTO), have also been significantly boosting production there in recent years.              

Copano's recently established joint venture with Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (NYSE: KMP) to provide gathering, transportation, and processing services in the Eagle Ford Shale also has some CAPS members bullish. The deal will extend capabilities of the companies to service active explorers -- Petrohawk Energy (NYSE: HK) has had positive results and is expanding there, while oil major ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is ramping up its drilling in its 240,000 net acre position. And like in the Barnett, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) is also looking to undertake a joint venture with its massive acreage there. Copano and Kinder Morgan have already had a high level of interest, prompting them to up their committed capacity, and they anticipate a larger first phase of construction.

Some CAPS members note that Copano may not be able to maintain such a high dividend payout, but the company does expect significant improvement in its distribution coverage this year because of its expansion initiatives and growth outlook.

Do you think Copano Energy deserves its improved status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company and check out all the information and opinions the community offers, absolutely free.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock is thinking about digging wells in his backyard, just to see what turns up. He owns no shares of companies mentioned here. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value selection. The Fool owns shares of Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, and XTO Energy. The Fool's disclosure policy has a surefire way of extracting any information it needs from you.