* "Took on a connotation that was too elitist"
* Cares more about jobs, still believes in global warming
By Scott Malone
BOSTON, May 3 General Electric Co (GE.N) may
have grown its clean-tech business fourfold over the past six
years, but Chief Executive Jeff Immelt wishes he had spent a
little less time talking about it.
The head of the largest U.S. conglomerate, who in January
was named a top adviser on job creation to U.S. President
Barack Obama, said on Tuesday that GE's focus on the
environmentally friendly aspects of its wind turbines and
high-efficiency appliances might have led his critics to
believe he was more interested in saving the planet than
growing the company.
"If I had one thing to do over again I would not have
talked so much about green," Immelt said at an event sponsored
by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Even though I
believe in global warming and I believe in the science ... it
just took on a connotation that was too elitist; it was too
precious and it let opponents think that if you had a green
initiative, you didn't care about jobs. I'm a businessman.
That's all I care about, is jobs."
As investors pour more money into energy technologies such
as solar panels and wind turbines, which produce electricity
without releasing the carbon dioxide associated with global
climate change, the renewable energy and smart-grid industries
will generate some 10 million to 15 million new jobs worldwide,
3 million of 5 million of which should be in the United States,
The company's Ecomagination initiative, which also
encompasses products such as energy-efficient jet engines and
railway locomotives, will generate some $21 billion in revenue
this year, Immelt said. That is more than four times the $5
billion recorded in 2005, but less than the $25 billion by 2010
goal the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company set in 2009.
Immelt, who often points out in speeches that he has never
been camping as a way of downplaying his environmental
interests, said he has lost interest in calling on the United
States to develop a more comprehensive energy policy. His prior
calls that the nation adopt regulations that put a price on
carbon raised the hackles of some shareholders.
"I'm kind of over the stage of arguing for a comprehensive
energy policy. I'm back to keeping my head down and working,"
But he could not resist wading into the debate around
Massachusetts' proposed Cape Wind project, which could be the
nation's first offshore wind farm, although opponents in the
nearby Cape Cod resort area have complained it would sully
"I have a lot of friends that have houses on the Cape and
on Nantucket, and I say build those big turbines there," Immelt
Those words came despite the fact the Cape Wind turbines
will come from one of GE's largest rivals -- Siemens AG
(Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Andre Grenon)