GE's Immelt: America employing 'stupid' energy policy

Posted Sep 25, 2010 by Michael Krebs
At a conference on energy in Washington DC, General Electric's CEO Jeff Immelt blasted what he sees as 'stupid' U.S. policies on future energy usage and consumption.
Jeff Immelt, CEO of U.S. conglomerate General Electric, is facing competitive pressure in China and in Europe in the nuclear power plant arena and in modern electricity distribution infrastructure projects. His issues overseas have also driven him to reflect on the Obama administration's approach to the American business community, and what he has found there has caused him to openly question the U.S. government.
Mr. Immelt is now convinced that American energy policy is wrongheaded - and that the United States is falling behind China in modern energy reform and in projects that include electric vehicles and wind-powered alternatives.
Speaking at the Gridwise Global Forum in Washington DC on Thursday, Immelt did not pull any punches.
"This is a great country. But, you know, we have to have an energy policy. This is just stupid what we have today," he said, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The rest of the world, Immelt believes, is moving considerably faster than the United States in critical energy infrastructure investments.
At the Gridwise Global Forum, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced plans to invest $30 million in cybersecurity projects for the American electricity grid.
"These awards help us make a significant leap forward to strengthen the security and reliability of the nation's electric grid, in a climate of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks," said Secretary Chu, according to a statement on the DOE web site. "The development of technologies that can provide defense-in-depth cybersecurity solutions and increased insight from private-public collaborations will allow us to better protect the nation's energy delivery systems that keep our lights on and the power flowing."
The White House maintains an upbeat tone on the future of America's energy distribution.
"Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors," President Obama said in June.
But Mr. Immelt is not impressed - and given GE's direct and daily involvement in building modern energy infrastructure solutions - his position on the matter carries significant weight.
To Immelt, the regulatory bureaucracy governing American energy policy are akin to "a relic of 1860 or something," and he does not believe the U.S. is serious about adopting a modern approach to energy.