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Idaho Falls groundbreaking celebration Feb. 20 touted as start of new era in nation’s energy future

February 21, 2007

Local, state and national government officials and representatives from the Idaho National Laboratory and Idaho’s universities gathered Feb. 20 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the $17 million Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) facility adjacent to University Place in Idaho Falls.

Government officials attending and who addressed the crowd included Gov. Butch Otter, Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, Reps. Mike Simpson and Bill Sali, plus Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy Dennis Spurgeon. INL Director John Grossenbacher also spoke and Idaho State University President Arthur C. Vailas spoke representing all of the Idaho universities, including Boise State University, ISU and University of Idaho.

Idaho State University President Arthur C. Vailas, center, joins other dignitaries in breaking ground for the new Center for Advanced Energy Studies.

“We share in the excitement of creating this collaborative private and public program,” said Vailas. “I really feel Idaho is going to be an energy corridor to the world, and I say that with confidence.”

Vailas stressed the collaborative nature of the new 55,000-square-foot facility that is scheduled to be completed in June 2008.

“We’re bringing together industry, universities and the government to solve the very complex energy problems our country faces,” Vailas said.

His sentiments were shared by the other officials who spoke.  Otter said that by building the center, “I think we’re planting a most important seed” and from that seed “we’ll see serious roots for serious energy business in Idaho.”

Craig stressed the importance the facility holds for developing nuclear energy, saying that the center would play a key role “for the future nuclear energy renaissance, but not just for this nation, but the entire world.”

The public ceremony started in the Bennion Student Union Building at University Place. INL technicians set up a live video-feed in the Bennion Building from a ground-breaking site located north of and adjacent to University Place in Idaho Falls. After opening remarks, officials were bused to the groundbreaking site, while the remaining attendees watched the ceremonies via a live video feed.

“The Department of Energy is eager to see the work that comes out of the CAES

Facility,” Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said. “The work conducted at the CAES facility will contribute to the administration’s effort to continue to aggressively pursue the goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil while encouraging scientific innovation and discovery.”

The mission of CAES is to address critical science and engineering issues that will help resolve the grand challenges associated with providing an appropriate mix of energy technologies needed to address critical U.S. and global energy needs. There is significant global interest in accelerated development of nuclear energy, but it is recognized that a mixed energy suite will be needed to ensure U.S. energy security. Research will focus on energy affordability, limited environmental impacts, and leadership in the global energy arena. Energy technologies to be addressed include those for nuclear, hydrogen, and fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) and the full spectrum of renewable energy sources.

CAES also is developing its research agenda to advance the education of the next generation of scientists and engineers and provide them with skills and experience needed to address critical work-force needs. This will include long-term, university-based research activities and host a range of national and international events to facilitate an informed dialogue on the key questions and issues. CAES will advance academic pursuits by fostering collaborations and interdisciplinary studies and by making its research and development facilities and those of INL available to a network of universities.

CAES is creating a unique and collaborative environment for our energy future including cross-organizational, peer-to-peer technical collaboration in areas of nuclear, renewable, fossil and alternative energy.

Through these efforts CAES will:

•  expand institutional capabilities leading to scientific advancement;

•  transfer knowledge leading to enhanced educational opportunities and a new trained energy workforce; and

•  integrate private industry for end-use applications resulting in economic expansion.

The project’s contractor is Big-D Construction. Funding for the building is coming from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grants and bond proceeds. ISU is supervising the construction of the building, and will manage it once it is built.

For more information on CAES, visit www.caesenergy.org.


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