Two decades ago, when coal ruled U.S. power generation, a Florida utility plowed some of its extra cash into a wind farm atop a desolate Oregon plateau.
It was the start of an unimaginably successful bet.
This year, that company — now named NextEra Energy Inc. — became the world’s first utility with a market capitalization of more than $100 billion, thanks largely to its clean-power business. It’s almost twice as valuable as the oil major ConocoPhillips and has developed enough wind and solar farms across the U.S. and Canada to power the entire nation of Greece. Shares have doubled in four years, outperforming virtually every other stock in the industry.
NextEra, which changed its name in 2009 to reflect its growing focus on alternative energy, now has wind and solar farms in about two dozen U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. They total roughly 18 gigawatts, enough to power almost 13 million homes. Last year, its clean power business — in addition to some natural gas and nuclear plants — raked in $4.7 billion in profit, 70% of its net income.
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