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City of Oakland goes green

Because of America's lack of national leadership on renewable energy, solid policies must be established at the local level, says Jerry Brown, mayor of Oakland, California, the largest city in the country to go green. Brown was governor of California when the state implemented ground breaking legislation that kick started America's wind industry in the 1970s. Oakland, 32 kilometres east of San Francisco, is powering all municipal functions -- from the lights, faxes and computers in city hall to traffic lights -- with green power. The city is buying 9 MW, a mix of wind, solar, biomass and small hydro geothermal, from the Association of Bay Area Governments. "Today, given the absence of bold ideas at the presidential and congressional level, cities and local governments must shoulder the burden of innovation," states Brown. "In a former era, we might have expected the federal government to advance our national [energy] security interests by establishing America as the superpower of sustainability and energy independence." Oakland's $4 million electricity bill will increase by some $100,000, he says. Brown also promises that by 2004, one-fifth of the city's electricity will come from new renewables.

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