Sears stores will be the first retailers to offer General Electric Co.'s new line of Brillion-enabled products, which aim to give consumers more control over home-energy usage with GE's Nucleus Home Manager iPhone app.

According to a news release, more than 100 Sears stores in the northeastern United States will offer Get Connected Starter Kits. The kits include a GE programmable thermostat and GE's GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater, which is built at Appliance Park in Louisville.

The GeoSpring unit is designed to save 62 percent more energy than a traditional electric water heater.

General Electric Co. said Wednesday it will add 380 more workers this summer as the company ramps up production of a new line of refrigerators, part of a planned $800 million investment in its Louisville operations by 2014.

The new employment comes on top of about 1,000 production jobs already added at GE's sprawling Appliance Park operations in Louisville in the first half of the year, mostly to produce new bottom freezer refrigerators and a new water heater.

The newest 380 employees will man a new second shift to produce the refrigerators.

A new General Electric microwave designed in Louisville is the first in the appliance industry tailored to the MyPlate guidelines, the federal government's new nutritional model.

Pressing a button on the over-the-range microwave activates controls that are preset with cooking times for foods the federal government is encouraging people to eat. MyPlate, a program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, advises consumers to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables, focus on lean protein for less than one fourth of the plate and switch to whole grain choices.

A push of the MyPlate button reveals a dial

General Electric Co. vice chairman and CFO Keith Sherin credited the company’s Louisville-based GE Appliances & Lighting segment with posting a strong quarter and year during a conference call with analysts Friday.

As Business First reported Friday, Fairfield, Conn.-based GE (NYSE: GE) released its earning report for the fourth quarter and all of 2010.

Overall, the company’s fourth-quarter profit rose more than 50 percent

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