UPDATE 1-Iraq orders $3 bln of GE electricity turbines

BOSTON, Dec 16 (Reuters) - General Electric Co GE.N said on Tuesday the government of Iraq had ordered $3 billion of gas turbines, to more than double the nation's electricity-generating capability.

The order for turbines capable of producing 7,000 megawatts of electricity, which will be shipped in 2009 and 2010, is the largest GE Energy has ever booked, said Steve Bolze, chief executive of GE Energy, in a phone interview.

Iraq’s current electric grid generates less than 6,000 megawatts of power a day, while demand averages more than 10,000 per day, GE said. One megawatt is enough electricity to meet the needs of about 8,000 typical American homes.

“This is just another example of how, despite the current economic condition, the demand for power is global and robust,” said Bolze.

The 56 turbines will be installed in 10 locations around Iraq and are in addition to a May order for eight turbines.

Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE is scheduled to brief investors on its 2009 earnings targets later on Tuesday.

GE shares were up 2.6 percent, or 44 cents, at $17.39 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Scott Malone)