Company wins a state award
for program in question
Some Telegraph Avenue merchants say Gov. Gray Davis is in the dark about conservation, specifically about a prestigious award presented to an international light bulb company.
On Tuesday, Philips Lighting Company was one of 22 recipients of the governor’s first Flex Your Power Energy Conservation Award. However, Phillips never fully executed the Berkeley program it received honors for, some locals say.
The award lauded a 2001 program by the company to install energy efficient light bulbs in Telegraph Avenue homes and businesses between Channing Street and Durant Avenue. Several storeowners say they were initially contacted about the program, but that was the end of it.
“Somebody from Philips came and said they wanted to change the bulbs, but then nobody showed up,” said Tariq Sultan, owner of the Berkeley Market at 2369 Telegraph Ave.
Sultan’s story is not unique.
Harry Keally, the owner of Blake Bar Restaurant and Night, at 2367 Telegraph Ave., said his business never received the promised bulbs.
“They never came around,” said Keally, who added that he and other business owners on the block attended a meeting with Philips officials about the bulb installations. But, he said, the company never contacted him after the meeting.
Bill’s Mens Shop, at 2368 Telegraph Ave., didn’t receive the promised lights either, said a store manager.
Philips spokesperson, Steven Goldmacher, said it was possible that some stores were excluded inadvertently. “If we missed any stores then my apologies,” he said. “That was not the intention of the plan.”
Goldmacher said Philips changed hundreds of bulbs on the block and spent roughly $12,000 on the project. Another Philips spokesperson estimated that the new bulbs saved locals a combined $4,672 on annual energy costs.
Goldmacher said he wasn’t aware of any service complaints but suggested that some stores never received the energy efficient bulbs because they already had efficient bulbs or had sockets that couldn’t accept new bulbs.
“Not everything could be changed to something better,” Goldmacher said.
Although Philips conceived the program, it contracted Oakland-based Amtech Lighting Services to identify sites that could be upgraded. Amtech officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Kathy Berger, executive director of a Telegraph Avenue development group, said that many homes and businesses had received the energy upgrades and were surprised to hear that some stores didn’t get new lights.
“We thought that every one who wanted lighting would have received it,” she said.
Davis spokesperson David Chai defended Philips and the recent award.
“The fact is that they saved the block 45 percent on energy costs and served as an innovative example for other folks,” he said.
Philips chose to institute the program in Berkeley because of the city’s reputation as an environmentally aware city, Goldmacher said. City officials helped narrow the site to Telegraph Avenue.
“Philips wanted a busy mixed-use block where they could showcase their residential and business lighting,” said Alice LaPierre of the city’s energy office.
The lights were installed between May and June 2001. Stores outfitted with new lights included Dharma, Futura, Mrs. Fields, Mars Mercantile, UC Sports Luggage and Bear Basics.
Goldmacher assured that Phillips will determine if some stores on the block were excluded from the program and will follow up on any mistakes.
The energy conservation awards were created during the recent energy crisis. In addition to Philips, the Port of Oakland and the County of Alameda received the award.
Contact reporter at