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GE seeks nuclear, appliance incentives in CO2 bill

General Electric Co is lobbying senators for incentives in the climate bill for everything from nuclear power plants to appliances, company officials said. GE hopes to sell new efficient water heaters, driers and other appliances with the ability to receive information from power utilities about real-time power prices.

The company expects the information will spur consumers to save energy and reduce emissions by running the machines at lower levels and at night when the price of power is less. Such systems would be part of the “smart grid” utilities hope can be built to make the grid more efficient and robust.

“If we get the right incentives and put the right programs in place to help us fund and develop these products we can start mass marketing them in the next couple of years and really get this grid working,” said James Campbell, president and CEO of GE consumer and industrial.

GE is a member of the US Climate Action Partnership, a group of companies and moderate environmental groups who early this year laid out a blueprint for emissions reductions and incentives they wanted to see in climate legislation.

Manufacturers are among industries including oil refiners and makers of aluminum, chemicals, paper and steel that are lobbying the Senate on climate legislation.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives included incentives that would pay manufacturers of super-efficient appliances for every unit they sell until 2013.

For instance, GE would get about $75 for every super-efficient dishwasher, about $200 for every such refrigerator, and up to $300 for hot water heaters.

GE is introducing a hybrid hot water heater next year it says will slash the energy used by conventional water heaters. The other products will take longer to roll out but GE hopes eventually all of its large appliances will be able to read real-time power prices.

The company hopes the Senate will keep or improve the incentives in its legislation.

Senator Barbara Boxer, who chairs the legislative body's environment committee, plans to unveil a climate bill in early September. But whether the bill will pass is uncertain.

Jones said GE, which makes products for nuclear reactors, is also lobbying Senators to include incentives to help make power generation from new nuclear plants easier. "One thing that could be done that could be really effective is to focus on recycling nuclear waste," said Earl Jones, GE senior counsel for government affairs.

In addition, GE is seeking incentives for replacing refrigerant gases that are greenhouses gases in appliances. Jones said alternatives are highly flammable and using them in old factories can be dangerous without costly upgrades.

“Absent the incentives or support to do that, it becomes cheaper to take the factory and build it someplace else new,” said Jones, who added the company was hoping to keep jobs in the United States. (Reuters)