Former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham will join Areva Inc, the U.S. subsidiary of the French-owned nuclear company, as chairman of its board of directors, the company announced Tuesday.

Areva has been aggressively marketing its advanced-design power reactor to American utilities and hopes Abraham, although he will hold a non-executive position, will help that cause as board chairman.

"Secretary Abraham will be supporting Areva's business expansion in North America, and indeed around the world," Anne Lauvergeon, chairman of the Paris-based company's executive board, said in a statement.

Areva, Westinghouse and General Electric each is developing a new generation of power reactors. Some industry executives believe more than a dozen new reactors could be built over the next 15 years.

Abraham, a former senator from Michigan, served as President Bush's energy secretary during the president's first term. After leaving the administration in January, 2005, he began -- and will continued to head -- a consulting business in Washington that focuses on energy issues.