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    Albany joins East Bay Green Corridor

    By Barbara Grady

     The City of Albany has joined the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, which should open the way for Albany to participate in the green jobs creation and green business recruitment that its neighboring cities of Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Richmond pursue.

     Joining should also help Albany to benefit from $76 million in federal Stimulus money awarded to the Partnership for weatherization, green job training, bio-energy research and carbon capture endeavors.

     “We are a small city,” without the space or clout to attract large businesses, said Albany Mayor Marge Atkinson. “But by leveraging strengths with the other cities and sharing information,” Albany can participate and benefit by the burgeoning green economic activity, she said.

     Atkinson, and the mayors of El Cerrito, Alameda and San Leandro, along with the Chancellors of the Peralta Community College District and Contra Costa Community College District and the President of California State University joined the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership at the organization’s annual summit last week. 

     The East Bay cities of Oakland and Richmond have become nationally known for pioneering work in creating green jobs training programs, the Oakland Green Jobs Corps and Solar Richmond, while Berkeley and its institutions are known for ground-breaking research in renewable energy, as is underway at the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Emeryville, meanwhile is becoming a mecca for bio-fuels research because of a new research institute founded there, the Joint Bio-Energy Institute.  This Institute, which is researching ways to create affordable bio-fuels, has already spawned numerous start up companies, said Emeryville Mayor Dick Kassis.  And Berkeley is pioneering a solar installation incentive program with its tax rebates to residents who install solar.

    The mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Emeryville along with the chancellor of UC Berkeley and director of Lawrence Berkeley Lab formed the Green Corridor Partnership two years ago.

    Albany has been active in making itself “green “ by developing a plan to lower its carbon footprint, see Albany Climate Action Plan, see http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?page=256  and by encouraging businesses and residents to do the same.  Recently, it has made home energy audits available through Rising Sun Energy Center, a program based in Berkeley. http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?recordid=256&page=303

    But Albany has not pro-actively recruited green companies or green jobs programs. Atkinson said space limitations are one issue. However, one idea that emerged at the Voices to Vision meetings about use of the Albany waterfront is to attract a world-class renewable energy firm or research institute. The East Bay is ripe for attracting investment in green companies, officials with the East Bay Green Corridor said.  For one thing, Lawrence Berkeley Lab has 170 graduate students working on ideas for renewable energy and carbon capture. Paul Alivisatos, director of the Lab, said some of these ideas could become new business start-ups.

     The $76 million in federal Stimulus grants awarded to date to Partnership members include

    –  $30 million over five years to fund two Energy Frontier Research Centers at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Lab for researching how to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it permanently underground.

    -About $18 million was awarded for weatherization, energy efficiency and green job creation in the Green Corridor cities of Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond.

    –  $24 million grant to Lawrence Berkeley Lab to figure out how to clean up underground contaminants

    – $4 million grant to the Joint Bio-Energy Institute to purchase equipment for bio-fuels research.

     “The expansion of our East Bay Green Corridor partnership is phenomenal,” said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.  “Leaders have come together to stress the importance of building a green economy and we are perfectly poised to be the model of innovation, economic and business development, and job training.”

     Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said, “Working across city boundaries with our educational partners, we have created green tech businesses, leveraged our stimulus funding, and the expansion of green jobs for our residents. “

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