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Energy Secretary Tours South Carolina Wind Energy Facility

February 18, 2022 by Dan McCue

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm toured Clemson University’s wind turbine testing campus Thursday, part of a daylong visit to South Carolina that also included a visit with nuclear engineering students at South Carolina State University.

Granholm was accompanied on her tour by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who is a South Carolina State alumnus and whose district encompasses the wind turbine facility.

The facility, already touted as the largest wind turbine test facility in the nation, is eyeing a possible $140 million expansion to allow it over the long term to continue to test the ever larger offshore wind turbines coming on the market.

“In order to test those massive turbines, you’re going to need massive equipment,” Granholm said during her visit.

The secretary didn’t comment on possible federal funding for the expansion, but did say having a facility that can test the larger offshore turbines will be critical to the expansion of the wind energy sector here.

Granholm made no promise of federal funding for the proposed expanse, offering only that an ability to test larger offshore wind turbines is crucial to meeting clean energy goals, and growing the domestic industry.

For Meredyth Crichton, executive director of the facility, which is officially called the Dominion Energy Innovation Center, that seemed to be enough on Thursday.

“We want to get this on their radar,” she told Charleston’s The Post and Courier newspaper.

The visit, Granholm’s first to South Carolina as secretary, came as President Joe Biden has been touting progress made in implementing the administration’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law.

In fact, Granholm’s visit to South Carolina State, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, was a follow-up, in a sense, to the commencement address the president delivered there in December 2021 at Clyburn’s behest.

During his address, Biden said he would be proposing a “historic investment” in historically Black colleges and universities to expand programs in fields like engineering and cybersecurity.

On Thursday, Granholm announced the administration was following through on that promise, allocating $3 million to the effort.

“We want people to see the benefits of the votes that were cast for them and for their communities and we also want to let people know that the next step, the Build Back Better agenda, is also really important for communities across the country,” she said.

The latest promise of funding is on top of the $17 million in funding that she announced last year to support internships and research projects at these institutions, and the $2.85 million awarded to historically Black colleges and universities in June to support nuclear and particle physics research trainee programs.

South Carolina State is the only historically Black university in the country to offer a four-year nuclear engineering program.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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