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July 26, 2019

Senators Collins, King Welcome Assistant Secretary Simmons to the University of Maine

The group toured UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, and received updates on clean energy technology.

ORONO, ME – Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) welcomed Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), to the University of Maine in Orono. The Senators and the Assistant Secretary were joined by representatives from state and federal government, along with industry representatives, to tour UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC). Discussions during the tour and meetings focused on the status of the New England Aqua Ventus I Project – what could be the first U.S. floating offshore wind project – and steps to revitalize the state’s forest economy through a new partnership developing advanced 3D printing materials.

“My first official visit as a new Senator in 1997 was to Dr. Dagher’s wood composite lab, and I was so impressed by the innovative work of Dr. Dagher and his team that I made a commitment to do all I could to support this vital research,” said Senator Collins.  “The UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center has become a world leader in the development of cost-effective, high-performance hybrid composite materials with applications that range from deepwater offshore wind energy to systems that protect our troops on the battlefield.  I was delighted to join Secretary Simmons today to strengthen the federal-state partnership in moving the Aqua Ventus I project forward, which will help build a new clean energy economy, with thriving industries and jobs of the future here in Maine.”  

“Maine is a global leader in clean energy and other innovative technologies thanks in large part to the work that’s being done here at the University of Maine,” said Senator King. “Together with partners like the United States Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Lab, UMaine’s faculty and students are creating new tools that will boost clean energy production, make best use of our state’s natural resources, and help create a better world for our children and grandchildren. It was a pleasure to be here today to welcome Assistant Secretary Simmons to witness first-hand what we already know: Maine is leading the nation toward a cleaner future.”

“We are honored to welcome Assistant Secretary Daniel Simmons and his team, along with U.S. Senators Collins and King, representatives of Governor Mills, and our industry leaders,” said Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “We are energized and humbled by the tremendous support expressed by our federal, state and local industry partners, and are committed more than ever to the success of New England Aqua Ventus I and what this crucial project means for U.S. technological leadership and Maine’s economy and clean energy future.”

The visit comes 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.

Senators Collins and King are strong supporters of revitalizing Maine’s forest economy. In September 2018, Senators Collins and King applauded an action plan released by the Forest Opportunity Roadmap (FOR/Maine) Initiative, an industry-led initiative that aims to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures. The FOR/Maine Initiative was funded in part by the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) requested by the Senators in 2016 in order to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. 

Additionally, Senators Collins and King have supported the New England Aqua Ventus I since its announcement in 2016. As one of UMaine’s signature projects, New England Aqua Ventus I may soon be the first floating offshore wind development in the United States. The project won $40 million from DoE to support phase three, which will deploy deepwater floating turbines off of Maine’s coast. 

Photo 1: Senators Collins and King with Assistant Secretary Simmons, members of the Governor’s Administration, and UMaine Staff in the ASCC

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