GM to invest $40 million in grassroots clean energy projects

General Motors said it will spend $40 million over the next few years on clean energy projects in various communities.

General Motors on Thursday said it will spend $40 million over the next few years on clean energy projects in various communities.

The bet on clean tech comes as GM launched a highly anticipated initial public offering. GM has said its focus will be on fuel efficient cars in North America. Indeed, the launch of the Chevrolet Volt will be notable to watch.

GM said the plan is to cut 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

During a press conference, GM CEO Dan Akerson said:

You might see Chevy in your neighborhood helping with solar panels on schools and other community-based facilities that need upgrades to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and reduce our heating bills. By supporting wind farms and solar projects that deliver renewable energy to the grid and also help family farms increase their revenues per acre, our host of other activities that benefit American communities. We estimate our 8 million metric ton carbon emission reduction goals equate to the emissions in 2011 from driving the 1.8 million vehicles Chevy is expected to sell in the United States over the next year.

GM will find these grassroots clean energy projects via a third party group, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and other organizations. Projects are currently being evaluated.

Akerson and other executives are clearly positioning GM as a clean tech brand. GM said that it is looking to boost fuel efficiency and cut CO2 emissions from factories. GM has been able to cut emissions at its plans by 60 percent and cut water usage by 35 percent since 2002.

Joel Ewanick, vice president of U.S. marketing at GM, said the transition to new alternative energy vehicles is likely to take 15 to 20 years. In the meantime, GM is looking to pursue other energy efficient projects.

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