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November 06, 2019

King Advocates for Initiatives to Boost Maine’s Clean Energy Production

Senator King’s Combined Heat and Power Support Act and the Aqua Ventus offshore wind project seek to utilize Maine’s two greatest natural resources – forests and coastline

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in an Energy Subcommittee hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) advocated for his legislation that would support businesses investing in energy efficiency technology, help diversify energy options for rural industries, and maximize the value of Maine’s natural resources. The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Support Act reauthorizes and funds the CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships (TAP) program for the next five years – a program that has helped multiple Maine businesses install energy-efficient CHP equipment and save on energy costs. Currently, there are ten regional CHP TAP designated centers including the University of Maine which serves the New England region.

During his opening statement, Senator King also underscored the DOE’s support of UMaine’s New England Aqua Ventus I Project, which may soon be the first floating offshore wind development in the United States. The hearing featured testimony from Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.  

“I…thank the Department for its steadfast support of the Aqua Ventus program in Maine, which I think is one of the most promising of the technologies…your support and the Department’s support consistently has meant a lot,” said Senator King in the hearing. “I think that project is really getting very close to having all the pieces together, so I want to thank you for that and also thank you for your interest in Combined Heat and Power. That is a technology that we have in hand and I know that the Department has been supportive – you’ve been up to the university. The technical support center is making a real difference for businesses throughout the country, actually. I think the department has identified something like 150 gigawatts of potential power from combined heat and power, potential in the country—that compares to 300 good sized power plants. So, very efficient use, and I appreciate your support and look forward to working with you on these projects.”

King originally introduced the CHP Support Act in 2017, after he hosted a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee field hearing at Robbins Lumber in Searsmont. The field hearing included witnesses from the Maine forest products and energy industries as well as the Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Office in the DOE. During the hearing, Senator King’s committee colleagues identified opportunities to use new energy efficient technologies to sustain and strengthen rural industries. Following the event, the University of Maine was designated as a regional CHP TAP institution by the DOE.

As one of UMaine’s signature projects, the New England Aqua Ventus I project won $40 million from the DOE to support phase three, which will deploy deepwater floating turbines off of Maine’s coast. Senator King has supported the New England Aqua Ventus I since the project’s announcement in 2016. In July, Senators King and Susan Collins (R-Maine) welcomed Secretary Simmons to UMaine for a tour of the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC). Discussions during the tour and meetings focused on the status of the Aqua Ventus project and steps to revitalize the state’s forest economy through a new partnership developing advanced 3D printing materials. The visit came after a May announcement of a partnership between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Maine to launch a first in the nation large-scale bio-based additive manufacturing program. The collaboration will provide ASCC students, faculty and associated companies with access to ORNL’s assets and expertise in advanced manufacturing. ORNL researchers, in turn, will gain access to UMaine’s facilities and expertise in sustainable composites. The partnership will advance 3D printing capabilities with wood residuals, establishing Maine as a global leader in a new manufacturing process and developing fresh markets for Maine’s forest products industry.

Senator King is a strong supporter of efforts to revitalize Maine’s forest economy to further economic opportunities for Maine people. He was key in establishing the Forest Opportunity Roadmap Maine (FOR/ME) Initiative, an industry-led initiative that is helping to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, support research and development, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures. The FOR/ME Initiative was funded as a result of the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) requested by Senators Collins and King in 2016, with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration in order to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. FOR/ME is implementing a roadmap and action plan for the development of new markets for Maine’s forest resources, including the strengthening of existing forest products manufacturing, the attraction of investment in emerging technology, and the utilization of forest products residuals in CHP biomass plants, microgrids, modern thermal systems, and new forest products development. The FOR/ME Initiative has already resulted in multiple funding opportunities for Maine organizations and new investment in Maine’s forest economy.

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