While we put conglomerate General Electric on our list of “Tech Vendors That Will Cash in On the Smart Grid Stimulus Funds,” we didn’t get the full impact the funds could have on GE in the days after the awards were announced. But the Wall Street Journal’s got that this morning, and says that around a third of the smart grid stimulus awardees are GE customers. The conglomerate, which makes smart meters, smart appliances, and in home energy management products, expects these customers to “use a good chunk of that money to buy its [GE] equipment.” Already, GE has announced utility customers including Florida Power and Light, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, and Pepco Holdings.
What’s as interesting as the size of the impact of the smart grid stimulus funds on GE, is the method in which GE looked to influence the smart grid stimulus funds. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, a longtime Republican, sits on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board alongside Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr. According to the Journal article, Immelt was a “driving force” behind stimulus funding gains for smart grid initiatives. GE invested $7.55 million in lobbying efforts in the second quarter of this year, a 34 percent increase from the company’s lobbying spending in the prior year second quarter. The investments — in initiatives including promoting the Democratic stimulus package, lobbying for smart grid stimulus fund increases, lobbying for the max smart grid stimulus award to be $200 million, helping customers apply for the stimulus funds, and developing “a colorful two-page fact sheet” on the stimulus for its customers — have apparently paid off.
More specifically GE’s fun-filled fact sheet told its customers that GE would “be involved with setting national standards and energy-transmission policy,” and said that GE could “help regional utilities and governments win federal stimulus money earmarked for making the power grids more efficient,” says the article. Although, GE General Counsel Brackett Denniston III explains that just because GE provided counseling on the Recovery Act legislation “does not ensure its clients will win the resulting contracts.” But with a third of its customers winning the smart grid stimulus funds, clearly GE’s counseling didn’t hurt.