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East Bay Green Corridor Attracts Funding, Advances Solar Initiative

A decision to work toward a uniform solar permitting process was one of several initiatives approved this week by principal partners of the East Bay Green Corridor, a regional partnership for green technology innovation and job training.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, one of the founding members of the Green Corridor, will contribute to the solar initiative by providing technical and scientific assistance on photovoltaic technologies, said Lab Director Paul Alivisatos, who participated in a meeting of Green Corridor principals in Berkeley last Tuesday.

EBGC-logoThe goal of the Green Corridor Solar Initiative is to establish a uniform permitting process for solar installations, thus streamlining the process for companies installing solar systems in Corridor member cities. Currently, different cities have their own permitting processes. Eventually, the Green Corridor hopes to develop solar penetration goals for the region and build best practice models for local distributed generation and workforce standards.

Separately, the group announced that it has attracted $6 million in funding from various federal, state and nonprofit sources. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Barbara Lee secured three federal earmark grants totaling $1.1 million for the cities of Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland for training in energy efficiency and solar installation. The California Energy Commission has awarded $3.5 million in grants for training in green buildings and transportation.

At its meeting last week, the principals also agreed to affiliate the Green Corridor with the Bay Area Climate Collaborative, a regional public-private partnership working to accelerate the clean energy market and address the challenge of climate change. It is a regional project of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “They have municipalities, businesses and environmental groups as members, so it has a very broad base,” said Sam Chapman, Berkeley Lab manager of state and community relations. “Its goals are very similar to the Green Corridor’s goals, so we can share best practices and work together in a variety of areas.”

Another milestone for the Green Corridor is that it could soon be designated a state “iHub,” or Innovation Hub. Green Corridor Director Carla Din announced that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development informed her of the likely designation, and said that a formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks. The state designated six iHubs in March and plans to select another six in the second round. The iHubs are designed to enhance the state’s competitiveness by stimulating partnerships, economic development and job creation around research clusters.

The East Bay Green Corridor was founded in December 2007 by the mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Emeryville, the UC Berkeley Chancellor and then-Berkeley Lab Director Steve Chu. Last year, the group added seven new partners—the mayors of Alameda, San Leandro, Albany and El Cerrito, plus the Chancellors of Peralta Community College District and Contra Costa Community College District, and the President of California State University, East Bay.

Other cities have expressed interest in joining, but the principals decided against expansion for now. Instead, it will review additional membership requests in a year. They also approved having Mayor Tom Bates, who has been serving as the Green Corridor chair, continue in that position for another two years, through 2012.

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