June 18, 2018
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US energy secretary to visit UMaine

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

ORONO, Maine — U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is scheduled Monday to tour the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center to learn more about its research and development of deep-water offshore wind power.

Chu, who became Secretary of Energy at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009, earned the Nobel Prize for physics in 2007. At the time of his appointment, he was a University of California at Berkeley professor in physics and molecular biology. He also served as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Labo-ratory.

Gov. John Baldacci, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud and Chellie Pingree also are expected to attend, according to a press release issued Thursday by UMaine.

“I believe that deepwater, offshore wind has enormous potential to help us meet our nation’s electricity needs and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Collins said in the press release. “But it also presents an exciting opportunity for the state of Maine to create thousands of much-needed, good-paying ‘green jobs.’

“The University of Maine is truly leading the way,” she continued, “and I am delighted that Secretary Chu has accepted my invitation to visit and learn more about the 10-year plan that it and the state of Maine have developed for the design, testing, and deployment of floating deepwater wind turbine platforms.”

Maine voters on Tuesday signaled their support for the development of this technology when they approved a bond providing $11 million to help a UMaine-led consortium develop a testing site off Monhegan Island, UMaine spokesman Joe Carr said in the press release.

Habib Dagher, the center’s director, will lead elected officials and media representatives on a 45-minute tour of his laboratory on Monday. Dagher and his colleagues are expected to provide detailed information about all the project elements, including those related to fabrication, design, environmental considerations and regu-latory issues.

Chu will be the fifth member of Obama’s Cabinet to visit UMaine in the past year. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was on campus in August, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in September, Attorney General Eric Holder in October and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke in December.

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