Earth Day celebrated at new Fremont solar facility

April 22, 2011 7:12:26 PM PDT
Friday marked the 41st anniversary of Earth Day and in the Bay Area several events celebrated the latest innovations in clean energy, but also focused on all the work that's left to be done.

The rising price of gasoline has forced people to think more and more about the high-cost of traditional sources of fuel not only in terms of damage to their pocketbook, but also to the environment.

At Oakland's Sirona fuels, drivers did their part on Earth Day by gassing up with biofuel. Sirona's Blue Sky biofuel is made with cooking oil collected from Oakland restaurants.

"The thing we're really excited about right now is being able to deliver it to the public at prices that are less than diesel," said Paul Lacourciere from Sirona Fuel.

At $4.15 per gallon, it's about 25 cents cheaper than the petroleum diesel offered at Bay Area gas stations.

"This is exciting! Recycling old oil? It's the best thing we can do for fuel. It's oil that would go to waste for sure and the engine loves it," said Bob Burger, bio-diesel buyer.

In Fremont, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and state energy leaders marked Earth Day with a ribbon-cutting for a new solar manufacturing facility.

"When you look at solar for wholesale power generation, this energy is lower cost during the day than gas-fired power. It's lower cost than nuclear power," said Solaria CEO Dan Shugar.

The event celebrated the opening of the facility and all the progress it represents, the larger effort to replace traditional energy sources, like coal, with cleaner, greener alternatives that include solar, wind and water-generated power.

"By the end of this decade, we want to be making sure that we're getting more power from solar and wind combined than we are from coal," said Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune.

It seems like a modest goal, considering all that's been accomplished since Earth Day began in 1970.

"You think about what's happened in the last 40 years, when Earth Day was originally created, we had things like the Love Canal, where rivers were catching on fire. LA smog was completely impenetrable and much of the drinking water that came out of our faucets you couldn't drink," said US EPA Western Region Jared Blumenfeld. "The improvements have been absolutely incredible."

Despite the progress made in green energy, it appears America's dependence on foreign oil hasn't waned. As prices here at the pump skyrocket, big oil companies--Exxon, Shell and Chevron--are expected to announce more huge profits next week.

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