Historic agreement helps to keep the East Bay Green

December 3, 2007 7:37:36 PM PST
Mayors, scientists and researchers from the East Bay are coming together to create jobs and help save the environment.

They want to have an impact on the world's "green economy".

At Richmond Build, the city sponsored pre-apprentice training program, students use the skills they learned in class to renovate their headquarters. Rodney Lee just finished the program, and went to work for a solar company.

"Before I came here I'd never even seen a solar panel before, or a lot of people maybe in the ethnic community they don't know that we have to go out, we have to recycle, we have to go out there and help the environment to insure our future," said Richmond Build Graduate Rodney Lee.

It's the kind of industry the mayors of Richmond, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland, the UC Berkeley chancellor and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory director hope to encourage.

"We see green technology as another means of wealth creation. I personally believe it's a little different, because it's an absolutely essential problem we're got to solve, and so I really meant by doing good really trying to help save the world, you can actually help create a new industry that the Bay Area and particularly the East Bay can really be the leader in," said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Director Steven Chu, Ph.D.

They signed an agreement to help build a regional green economy through cooperation.

"Berkeley could be a place for innovation where we get the start up companies to start, and once they do that they come to a place like here," said Berkeley mayor Tom Bates.

That's what happened with Sun Power which started in Berkeley, and is moving into what used to be a ford auto manufacturing plant in Richmond.

"The solar industry is phenomenally on a growth mode. It's growing 40-percent per year for the last five years, and it's projected to continue to grow at 30 percent per year," said Sun Power CEO Tom Werner.

The mayors hope growing green industries may also help solve some of the region's social problems.

"I think that simultaneously you can address the issue of pollution, you can address the issues of poverty," said Oakland mayor Ron Dellums.

It's not clear when they'll be able to see the results of this partnership. but everyone is excited about its potential.

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