Utilities have long been popular income investments. Why? They have delivered growing income for over 20 consecutive years. They not only provided stable income, but a growing one that beat inflation!

Well, at least these three solid utilities have done so.

Growing dividends for over 40 years and counting…

Canadian Utilities Limited (TSX:CU) has increased dividends for 43 years in a row. It is the top publicly traded dividend-growth stock in Canada.

Right now it yields 3.6% and sits at $32.4 per share, close to its 52-week low of $31.

Is 3.6% yield a good buy? Well, in the past seven years the highest yield it reached was about 3.8%. With a 3.6% yield, it’s not too far off.

So, a yield of 3.6-3.8% is a good place to start buying into Canadian Utilities over time. This yield range comes out to a price range of $31.05-32.77 per share based on its quarterly dividend of 29.5 cents per share, or annual payout of $1.18 per share.

Then, there’s Fortis Inc. (TSX:FTS), which has increased dividends for 41 years in a row. It is the second-most publicly traded dividend-growth stock in Canada.

Right now it yields 4.1% and sits at $36.7 per share, closer to its 52-week low of $34 than its 52-week high of $42.

Is 4.1% yield a good buy? Well, in the past decade it reached an extremely high yield of 4.6%. A yield of 4% or higher is already considered a high yield for the quality utility.

So, a yield of 4% or higher is a good place to start buying into Fortis over time. This yield comes out to a minimum buy price of $37.5 per share based on its quarterly dividend of 37.5 cents per share, or annual payout of $1.5 per share.

High-growth utility with over 20 years of growing dividends

ATCO Ltd. (TSX:ACO.X) has increased dividends for 21 years in a row. It is the fourth-most publicly traded dividend-growth stock in Canada.

Right now it yields 2.8% and sits at $35.8 per share, close to its 52-week low of $35.

Is 2.8% yield a good buy? Well, in the past 10 years it reached the highest yield of about 2.9%. A yield of 2.7% or higher is already considered a high yield for the quality utility.

So, a yield of 2.7% or higher is a good place to start buying into ATCO over time. This yield comes out to a minimum buy price of $36.66 per share based on its quarterly dividend of 24.75 cents per share, or annual payout of 99 cents per share.

ATCO delivered average dividend growth of 14.7% in the past three years, while Canadian Utilities and Fortis delivered 10% and 3.3%, respectively. So, ATCO would probably provide higher dividend growth in the future if income growth is important to you.

In conclusion

GICs give you guaranteed income, but maturity could take at least one year if you’re looking for higher interest rates. Consider taking a bit more risk by buying utilities and get paid four times a year.

If you’re looking for stable, growing income, utilities are great candidates for income and income growth right now. The only thing a GIC could beat utilities at is that it guarantees the principal, while stock prices are volatile.

Further, you should know that ATCO owns 53% of Canadian Utilities. So, if you don’t want double exposure, buy ATCO or Canadian Utilities, not both.

Portfolio management is about making decisions. Do you want absolute stability with GICs, a higher yield from Canadian Utilities, or a higher growth potential from ATCO? Perhaps you want to own them all.

Don’t forget Fortis, a solid and stable regulated utility with the highest yield of the bunch.

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Fool contributor Kay Ng owns shares of CANADIAN UTILITIES LTD., CL.A, NV and FORTIS INC.