Prospects are slim due to high deficits that the U.S. government will create a financing arm to underwrite big-ticket infrastructure projects, the chief executive of General Electric Co
President Barack Obama has proposed such a lending and grant-making infrastructure bank as a way to help fund road, rail, water and other major projects.
Immelt told a Brookings Institution business forum that he supported the concept, but noted that current government deficits make the proposal difficult to imagine. He also said the availability of private funds has improved.
Projects are getting capital they didn't get two years ago, he said.
Congress has so far been cool to creating an infrastructure bank capitalized with taxpayer funds, but the idea could reemerge when lawmakers consider long-term transportation spending later this year.
Immelt also said there is little interest in the United States in high-speed rail, another Obama infrastructure priority that has received billions in federal seed money over the past two years.
On energy, Immelt said a clear U.S. policy making fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gasses more expensive is needed to move the needle on accelerating advanced technology investments.
There has to be a price on carbon, he said.
GE is making a significant push in ventures like wind turbines, compact florescent bulbs, and more efficient railroad locomotives but Immelt was critical of government policy.
What we have today is too many energy policies or none at all, Immelt said, noting that the U.S. needs clear standards that do not focus on just one fuel.
GE shares were up 2 cents at $18.65 on Wednesday afternoon.
(Reporting by John Crawley; Editing by Tim Dobbyn, Phil Berlowitz)