GE’s Immelt Calls for ‘Long-Term’ U.S. Energy Policy

The U.S. needs a national energy policy that puts a long-term price on carbon as China and other nations surge ahead in green technology, General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said.

“China is green, green, green, green -- four greens,” Immelt said today during a presentation with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman at the Gridwise Global Forum in Washington. He cited demand, innovation funding, supply chain and public policy as advantages for China.

Immelt helps lead the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of companies and environmental groups that favor stalled legislation that would establish a cap-and-trade system based on carbon-emission credits. He’s urged federal regulation in part so manufacturers can build to uniform specifications.

“The rest of the world is moving 10 times faster than we are,” Immelt said. The U.S. is “reddish” in areas such as demand and on public policies aimed at spurring clean-energy technologies because policy makers get caught up in a debate on climate, Immelt said.

While the U.S. is a “great” country, “we actually have to have an energy policy,” Immelt said. “It’s stupid what we have today.”

The U.S. needs to establish a “long-term price signal” on carbon emissions, in order for companies to provide “appropriate funding for innovation” regardless of fuel, as well as revive nuclear energy. Such moves would create jobs rather than shift them overseas, Immelt said.

‘Nuclear Renaissance’

“I personally believe there should be a nuclear renaissance in this country,” he said.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, is the world’s biggest maker of power-generation equipment, jet engines, locomotives and medical-imaging machines. GE power-generation equipment provides one-third of the world’s electricity.

The GE Energy Infrastructure division includes gas, wind, steam, nuclear, smart-meters and transmission equipment as well as oil-and-gas exploration machinery.

In July, GE called for entries in a 10-week contest to speed updates of global power grids, promising investment and marketing help for the best submissions from a $200 million fund. The company is spending about $10 billion on environmentally friendly products by 2015 through Immelt’s five-year-old “ecomagination” program.

Other GE divisions include appliances, lighting, aircraft leasing, real estate, consumer finance and lending to small and mid-sized businesses.

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