GE Power sees little sales impact if U.S. quits climate deals

Tue Dec 6, 2016 7:50am EST
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(Story corrects to 1 billion tonnes from 1 million in sixth paragraph.)

By Alwyn Scott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co's (GE.N: Quote) sales of power plant upgrades would not suffer much if the United States bailed out of climate change treaties under a Trump administration as utilities still want the economic benefits that come with modernizations, GE's power services chief said on Monday.

President-elect Donald Trump has called global warming a hoax and threatened to quit climate accords, though he recently said he is keeping an "open mind."

But even if Trump took the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate deal, that would not necessarily cut demand for plant improvements, GE said.

"We see the demand being very robust for products that can lower emissions and increase efficiency," Paul McElhinney, chief executive of GE's $15 billion power services business, said in a TV interview with Reuters.

"I don't actually see anything happening domestically in the U.S. as having a dramatic impact."

GE supports the climate agreements, which it says can help drive utilities to upgrade plants. It released a study on Monday that shows global CO2 emissions could be cut by 10 percent, or 1.1 billion tonnes a year, if current technology to boost the efficiency of coal and gas-fired power plants were installed in every plant now operating. The reduction would be equivalent to taking 95 percent of U.S. cars off the road, GE said.

Such upgrades cost about $55 million for a coal plant and $10 million for a natural gas plant, GE said.   Continued...

The General Electric logo is pictured on the General Electric offshore wind turbine plant in Montoir-de-Bretagne, near Saint-Nazaire, western France, November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe - RTSSOBY