The Vineyard Gazette has the details on the latest way that General Electric, led by the chairman of President Obama's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Jeffrey Immelt, is getting subsidized by taxpayers: A $767,000 federal stimulus grant that is paying for GE appliances in 33 houses on Martha's Vineyard. The appliances are remote-controlled in a way that they use less power when there is high demand for electricity. That has its problems:
While the next generation hot water heater is programmed to buy and store energy at off-peak hours the price has hit code red frequently enough to be a problem. "People will call in to me and say, 'I just had a cold shower.' "
Peak load also frequently overlaps with dinnertime — between 5 and 7 p.m. — and Mr. Bayne can recall occasions where he has had to unplug stovetops from communicating with energy markets at the request of participants.
Still, not all the 33 appliance recipients are complaining:
On top of GE's discounted price for the appliances the department of energy agreed to foot half the list price. As a result the Slavins were able to buy a refrigerator that retails for $3,000 for only a few hundred dollars. It was an opportunity so appealing that Mrs. Slavin passed along word to her mother, who is also enrolled in the project and benefitting from a slate of state-of-the-art new appliances.
Well, this is one way to create jobs — using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the purchase of GE refrigerators (though who knows where they are made). Whether is helps American competitiveness is another question. Remember, GE means government.
Recovery.gov has more details on the project; it looks as though GE got $175,504 for "smart appliances and shipping."