U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has announced his decision to step down from the U.S. Department of Energy, pending the Senate's confirmation of a successor, HydroWorld.com has learned.
Chu -- a 1997 Nobel Prize recipient for his work in physics -- was selected for President Barack Obama's cabinet in 2008 after directed the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California since 1994.
"While I will always remain dedicated to the missions of the department, I informed the President of my decision a few days after the election," Chu wrote in a memo to Department of Energy staffers today. "I would like to return to an academic life of teaching and research, but will still work to advance the missions that we have been working on together for the last four years."
Throughout his tenure, Chu has been supportive of renewable energies and the hydroelectric industry.
HydroWorld.com reported in April 2011 that Chu and the U.S. Department of the Interior had pledged US$26.6 million in funding for research and development in hydropower technologies, which followed a $37 million allocation to marine and hydrokinetic developers in September 2010.
"There's no solution to the energy crisis, but hydropower is clearly part of the solution and represents a major opportunity to create more clean energy jobs," Chu said in a May 2010 interview.
Chu's replacement has not yet been named, though the National Hydropower Association said former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and former Washington Governor Chris Gregoire are all potential candidates.
HydroWorld.com reported earlier this month that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will leave his post by the end of March, and Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson has also announced her plan to step down.