Quick, name the nation's greenest city government. Surprise — it's Oakland, although three other Bay Area cities tied for second place in a report released Monday.

Drawing 17 percent of its power from alternative sources such as solar, wind and geothermal resources, Oakland makes the most use of renewable energy in city operations, according to SustainLane, an environmentally focused Web site (www.sustainlane.us) that issues urban sustainability rankings in various categories every month.

San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento tied for second place, with each getting 12 percent of their energy from renewable sources. Other California cities on the list are San Diego, which came in fifth, and Los Angeles, which ranked seventh. Other cities on the list include Portland, Ore., and Boston.

"California has the most ambitious renewable goals in the country," said Susan Carothers of the California Public Utilities Commission, who was quite happy to see so many California cities at the top of the list. "Cleaner electricity production is essential in solving climate change issues."

Carothers was referring to the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard, which set minimum requirements in 2002 for utility purchases of renewable energy for the state's electric grid. In its report, SustainLane said California cities rank high in general because of this standard. The group surveyed the 50 largest U.S. cities.


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"California dominates the renewable power industry in the United States," said James Bushnell, research director for the University of California Energy Institute, based in Berkeley.

SustainLane researcher Warren Karlenzig said there has been a "dramatic" increase in local governments' efforts to get energy from renewable sources.

"California has long led the way on clean energy sources," said Emily Rusch of citizens' advocacy group CALPIRG. She said she hopes Congress will pass similar legislation, "following California's example."

Contact Janis Mara at jmara@angnewspapers.com or (510) 208-6468. Read her Energy Blog at InsideBayArea.com.