AnalysisU.S. old infrastructure offers opportunities for investors

Published 7 August 2007

Much of America’s aging infrastructure needs replacing, rebuilding, or rehabilitating; this offers opportunities to infrastructure fund managers, especially in the power-generation sector

We have never stayed at a Motel 6, but we still remember the series of light humored radio and television ads featuring the folksy voice of writer Tom Bodett, with the quote “We’ll leave the light on for you.” For savvy investors, making sure the light is on in the United States — and, more generally, investing in U.S. infrastructure — now beckon as lucrative opportunities. We can debate whether or not the Minneapolis bridge collapse means that the U.S. infrastructure is crumbling, but what is beyond debate is that much of America’s ageing infrastructure needs replacing, rebuilding, or rehabilitating. Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Daniel Yergin’s shop) says, for example, that the U.S. electricity sector needs $900 billion of investment over the next fifteen years, which is, as FT’s Lex column notes, more than replacing the net $750 billion worth of plant already in place. Lex also adds that “The only thing worse than having to spend that amount would be not spending it.” Overall, spare generation capacity may drop below 15 percent of peak demand -