Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rentseeking Cubed: ""Green" economy needs targets, free trade: GE" and "GE takes new stakes in clean technology start-ups"

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Lobbying Congress and the Executive is not just allowed but encouraged by the right to petition.

I've slowly been coming to the position that this right is abused by corporations. The legal thinking that treats corps. like natural persons can be argued on a few different grounds, one of which is that natural persons expire while, theoretically at least, corporations can live forever. It might be time to revisit the idea of putting a finite lifetime on corporations, as the early corporate charters did.

Another possibility is the Supreme Court revisiting "Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad", the 1886 case which established the precedent of treating corporations as individuals.
This isn't a far-fetched notion. You will be hearing about "corporate personhood" when the court decides the case of “Hillary: The Movie.’’ later this session.
Enough of the legal stuff, here are three GE stories from Reuters, first up the headline article:
The world needs tougher targets to boost low-carbon energy, both nationally and in global climate change talks, the head of General Electric Co's energy business John Krenicki said on Wednesday.

"If you really want it to take off, governments have got to set the framework," he told Reuters.

"What we can't have is a one-year policy and expect companies to invest billions and billions of dollars when we're not convinced there's going to be a market," he said, using the example of U.S. renewable energy tax breaks that expire in two years....MORE

Next we have the blurb "GE eyes $6 billion in renewable investment by 2010":

General Electric Co aims to boost its investment in renewable energy generation to $6 billion from its current $4 billion level by the end of 2010, Alex Urquhart, president and chief executive of the largest U.S. conglomerate's Energy Financial Services arm, said on Wednesday.

Finally, "GE takes new stakes in clean technology start-ups":

General Electric Co unveiled two investments in start-up clean technology companies on Wednesday as part of its strategy of focusing on ways for business to generate and use energy more efficiently.

The newest investments in the largest U.S. conglomerate's $22 billion energy investment pool focus on improving the efficiency of electricity-generating solar panels and allowing utilities and power users to coordinate energy usage to prevent overloading the electric grid.

The stakes in Israeli start-up Solar Edge and Boulder, Colorado-based Tendril reflects GE's desire to gain exposure to the dozens of new energy-related technologies being developed, any one of which it believes could grow to be a big business on par with its wind or solar operations.

"We want to find the next billion-dollar industry," Alex Urquhart, chief executive of GE Energy Financial Services said in an interview. "This gives us the ability to get a much, much bigger footprint than we'd get on our own and to do a lot more than you'd do if you were buying and integrating and all that."

GE declined to disclose the amounts of the two investments by its venture finance arm, which has pumped about $160 million into start-up energy companies since 2006. Its investments have included a stake in battery maker A123 Systems Inc -- which went public in September. Strong investor acceptance of its shares could whet the market's appetite for more cleantech- related IPOs....MORE