General Electric Co said on Wednesday it would fold its battery storage and electrical grid units into its wind turbine and hydropower business to cut costs, speed decision-making and cater to surging demand for renewable power. The announcement, a day before GE was due to report fourth-quarter results, will eliminate a layer of management mostly based in Chicago, with minimal reduction in staff. The combined unit will have about 40,000 employees and annual revenue of about $16 billion, GE spokesman Jim Healy said in an interview, compared with $10.2 billion for renewable energy last year, according to Reuters.
GE’s renewables business currently comprises on- and offshore wind turbines, plus hydropower. GE’s units handling electrical transmission and distribution grids, battery storage and solar inverters and controls had been in GE’s Power business, which is focused on fossil fuel generation. Regional leaders for renewables will now deal directly with the company’s renewables headquarters in Paris. GE does not make solar panels.
The move is GE’s first big structural shift since October, when it said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice had expanded accounting probes to include a $22 billion writedown of goodwill at GE Power in the third quarter.