DOE energy innovation chief to resign

Reuters News
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Posted: May 10, 2012 3:54 PM
DOE energy innovation chief to resign

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Department of Energy's program that funds high-tech energy projects will step down next month.

Arun Majumdar, who has served for more than two years as the director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, or ARPA-E, will resign on June 9, Secretary Steven Chu said in a note to agency staff on Wednesday.

Majumdar's family lives in California and never moved to Washington. He often told people at conferences he would only do the job at the agency for a few years as his family was far away.

"It was that pressure on his family life and some recent transitions in his family situation that are prompting his move back to California," said a source at the DOE who did not want to be named.

ARPA-E was created in 2007 by the administration of George W. Bush to invest in projects considered too risky for the private sector, but that have the potential to revolutionize energy markets.

It did not get funding until President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package directed $400 million to the office which has funded projects to, among other things, develop weeds that break down into sugars to make biofuels, copy sea organisms that convert carbon into an energy source, and develop batteries to store energy from wind and solar power.

Eric Toone, currently the DOE's deputy director of technology, will take the job next month.

Majumdar also served as Chu's acting undersecretary of energy. Starting Wednesday, David Sandalow will take that job while continuing as assistant secretary for policy and international affairs.

Majumdar previously taught engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and was an associate director at the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

(Reporting By Timothy Gardner; editing by Jim Marshall)