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Chinese eye Glendale for solar energy site

Officials say they're interested in learning the city's planning strategies.

March 16, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

China’s Solar Valley — a green tech version of California’s Silicon Valley — wants to cozy up to Glendale.

Government officials there are interested in sending staffers to work at Glendale City Hall for a year to see how planning is done here, Mayor Laura Friedman said this week as she described her visit to China during a City Council meeting.

A businessman who developed much of the clean-tech metropolis is also eyeing Glendale for a possible 8.5-acre manufacturing site, she said.

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“I think it’s an interesting opportunity to kind of have a relationship with the Solar Valley of China,” Friedman said.

China has been turning more farmlands and villages into cities and industrial zones in recent years and Dezhou, home to Solar Valley, is one of them. With the northeastern city’s expansion came a close relationship to Hmin Solar Energy Group, a green technology company, and a push to make Dezhou a national center for solar manufacturing, research and development.

Now, streetlights, apartments and factories are powered by wind and solar energy. During her visit, Friedman noticed high rises topped with solar towers.

“At night, they look like a giant roller coaster and they’re all lit up,” she said. “The thing that hit me the most was how much they’ve built in the solar city.”

A delegation of Dezhou city officials would like to visit Glendale in coming months to discuss the possibility of becoming a “friendly city.” Glendale has sister cities in Japan, Korea, Armenia and Mexico, but none in China. However, while a “sister city” is a more formal relationship, a “friendly” city is about increasing interaction.

“One’s like going steady and the other’s kind of like dating,” Friedman said.

In addition, Chinese officials are interested in sending city staffers to work for Glendale at no cost to the city, she said.

Friedman said she wanted Glendale’s economic development team to reach out to the businessman, Huang Ming, board chairman of China Himin Solar Co., who is interested in developing a solar panel facility at a location near Los Angeles to manufacture and display the technology.

While she said the potential opportunity was exciting, “This is all very preliminary,” she said.

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