By STEPHANIE CHASTEEN – Sentinel correspondent – November 15, 2002
SANTA CRUZ — Bonnie Raitt’s Green Highway is coming to a green doorstep.
Raitt will perform a benefit concert for the Vote Solar Initiative and the Santa Cruz Energy Action Coalition at the Civic Auditorium on Sunday. She and her crew will pull into Santa Cruz accompanied by a traveling fair of green energy partners.
The entire concert, dubbed “Green Highway,” will be off the energy grid: Lighting will be provided by a 100 percent biodiesel generator running on used vegetable oil, and a biodiesel truck loaded with solar panels will travel with the show to power the sound system.
The Vote Solar initiative was responsible for the $100 million solar bond passed last year in San Francisco. Next week Raitt will join Robert Redford in the dedication ceremony for the first project on the bond — the solarization of the Moscone Center. At 675 kw the installation will be the second-largest rooftop system in the country, second only to the 1100 kw system on the roof of the Santa Rita jail.
“Our goal is to bring solar energy into the mainstream,” said David Hochschild, Vote Solar’s program director.
“Every time demand for solar doubles the costs go down by about 20 percent, so what we’re trying to do is to encourage a number of local governments to make large investments in solar energy.”
Local nonprofit Santa Cruz Energy Action Coalition is pursuing, among other projects, a solar bond modeled after that in San Francisco.
“We really believe that local control (of power) and renewable energy sources are the way to go, and hopefully our leaders will lead and if not, we’ll do whatever’s required to bring initiative on the ballot to… bring this to the public’s awareness,” said Luke Lehman of Santa Cruz Energy Action Coalition.
Raitt has been active in environmental issues since the 1970s. On her commercial Green Highway tour this summer with Lyle Lovett, she visited 42 cities in a biodiesel bus, flanked by Honda’s electric hybrid cars. She helped create the Green Highway concept to underline the link between business and the environment.
“Our economic life must run in harmony with the sanctity of the natural environment,” said Raitt.
In keeping with this philosophy several local partners will display their products in the Civic Center courtyard before the concert. This miniature energy fair, which is open to the public, includes demonstration of the biodiesel generator and the Greenpeace solar truck providing power for the concert, and Toyota of Santa Cruz will show off its electric hybrid car. Also on hand will be representatives from local solar installation companies Ecoenergies and Solar Technologies, clean power provider ApolloPower, green architect Marilyn Crenshaw, the Bicycle Hub and Happy Boy and Thomas organic farms and Guayaki/Nub Teas.But wait, there's more!