Preparing for Autonomous Vehicles

Automobiles really are becoming more automatic. Technology for driverless autos is evolving at Moores Law rates as are advances in battery technology for more cost effective electric powered cars and buses. This wave is coming, let’s be ready to ride it!

However, advances in vehicle technology will be largely wasted if we don’t plan now for ways to design our cities for people first and shared collaborative systems that feature more options for the way we move around. 
We’ll need parking during this transition, but we can double and triple the number of people living and working in our downtown focusing on designing for people first, not cars.
Quality context based mixed use neighborhoods, robust transit, bike share like Great Rides, car share, Uber, Lyft, walking are options that save people time and money while better protecting our environment.
These options add value and could benefit from autonomous driving technology requiring fewer vehicles. Some of us are already working toward establishing the infrastructure and designing our streets in a way that maximizes the savings with higher value for our citizens and community.
Road widening doesn’t work: It’s called induced demand. Here’s Honolulu
http://www.inforum.com/opinion/letters/4214873-letter-fargo-can-be-leader-alternative-energy

Some ND Senators Try to Stop the Wind

One of the things North Dakota is known for is wind, another is energy. Incredibly some ND Senators want to stop wind energy development in the state for 2 years. Perhaps they do not realize that due to increased efficiency and technology, electricity from wind turbines is now less expensive than coal and compliments abundant and cleaner natural gas peaking plants? 
It’s time for North Dakota and our nation to embrace and leverage technology to use our resources to transition to cleaner and more efficient renewable energies like solar, wind, and geothermal along with increased energy efficiency in our buildings.

A recent Forbes article shows there are more people employed in the United States in the renewable energy industries than conventional energy including oil and coal.  Full article online
 

Solar Employs More People In U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal And Gas Combined

Data journalist covering technological, societal and media topics

In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent. It’s a welcome statistic for those seeking to refute Donald Trump’s assertion that green energy projects are bad news for the American economy.
Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country’s solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity. The gulf in employment is growing with net generation from coal falling 53 percent over the last decade. During the same period, electricity generation from natural gas increased 33 percent while solar expanded 5,000 percent.
Fuel production and electricity generation together directly employed 1.9 million workers last year, according to the report, with 55%, or 1.1 million, working with fossil fuels. The DoE identifies another 2.3 million jobs associated with energy transmission, distribution and storage.
Solar energy added 73,615 new jobs to the U.S. economy over the past year while wind added a further 24,650.

What Would Theodore Roosevelt Say About Pruitt as Head of Environment?

I’m writing this on Presidents Day. I wonder what Theodore Roosevelt would say and do about this administrations and majority of our Senate’s choice Scott Pruitt?
Here are a few of his words:
• “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”
• “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”
• “It is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff, a forest, or a species of mammal or bird. Here in the United States we turn our rivers and streams into sewers and dumping-grounds, we pollute the air, we destroy forests, and exterminate fishes, birds and mammals — not to speak of vulgarizing charming landscapes with hideous advertisements. But at last it looks as if our people were awakening.”
• “It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one’s sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature.”
• “The lack of power to take joy in outdoor nature is as real a misfortune as the lack of power to take joy in books.”
• “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
• “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”
• “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.”
• “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”
I’m very disappointed in President Trumps nominee to our Environmental Protection Agency, and in our North Dakota Senators Hoeven and Heitkamp for approving Scott Pruitt.
Clean air, water, and land is now in the hands of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a staunch defender of polluters in court. In many Oklahoma metro areas the air quality rates an F, and the number of level 3 injection induced earthquakes was 890 in 2015.

Thanks to PBS for this article about injection induced earthquakes. Here’s the full article, and a snippet below
Curbing the threat
To many Oklahomans, it is clear that that risk has risen sharply. Data backs up their experiences. The earthquake rate in the state has grown at an astounding pace. In 2013 the state recorded 109 quakes of magnitude 3 and greater. The following year the number jumped to 585, and in 2015 it reached 890.
The escalation prompted two unusual warnings jointly issued by the USGS and the OGS in October 2013 and May 2014. Seismologists stated that Oklahoma had a significantly increased chance of seeing a damaging magnitude 5.5 temblor. “It was the first time I think we’d ever issued an earthquake advisory east of the Rockies,” says Robert Williams, the USGS central and eastern U.S. coordinator for earthquake hazards.”
~End quote~
Every person that I’ve heard that runs for public office lists public safety as the number one priority. Protecting our citizens from harmful emissions, foul water, contaminated land is public safety and should be treated as such.
California is known for their strong environmental protection policies. During these efforts, their economy has grown immensely with new jobs in new energy fields that leverage technology. Here’s former California governor Arnold Schwarzenneger’s perspective:


 

Make Ready for the Next Era Now

Why should North Dakota pave the way for electric cars? While we’re a large oil producer, North Dakota doesn’t have any gasoline refining plants and we have to export oil to import gasoline. We can and should do better. Advancing the transition to cleaner electric vehicles would be an incredible advantage for North Dakota.
There are over 20 models of EV autos from 12 manufacturers available now or being produced like the Tesla Model 3 with an estimated price of $35,000. Here are a few of them. 
Volkswagen was caught rigging emissions tests for their diesel vehicles and a court has determined a substantial settlement. Part of the settlement is a requirement for VW to provide clean fuel alternatives across the US.

This is a wonderful opportunity to build on existing and ongoing alternative fuel and efficiency projects in Fargo and across North Dakota and the region.
Currently there is not a strong demand for electric charging stations at this time in ND. Today’s cost of an electric vehicle like a Nissan Leaf is $31,000, still a bit higher than a standard car but with more manufacturers like Chevrolet, Volkwagen, Tesla and others building them, the cost and efficiency will improve.

We live in a state that produces over twice the electricity (36 million megawatt hours) that we use in state (16 million million megawatt hours) with a growing percentage of electricity being produced with wind, solar, and cleaner burning natural gas. The cost of electric charging at today’s 8-10 cents a KWH is $1 for a gallon equivalent, estimated at 30 mpg, less than half the current cost of gasoline. This type of quick charge station can completely recharge a Nissan Leaf in about 20 minutes for 100 mile range at a cost of less than $3. Here’s a link 
In our Fargo Moorhead area, our  C.L.E.A.N. team (Citizens Local Action Energy Network) is a coalition formed to build on good work by many in a collaborative manner. Among our common goals is to advance clean energy solutions and to aid in the transition to clean fuel vehicles and infrastructure that could include strategically located Electric Vehicle charging stations and infrastructure. Our group responded to Volkswagens call for public proposals for electric vehicle infrastructure with a three phase plan for EV charging corridors. The first would be along I-94, then I-29 followed by Highway #2.
Another great application for electric vehicles would be transitioning our Matbus fleet over time to electric buses. Many larger cities started using these years ago, and some like Duluth and Rochester have been running some of these successfully since 2015 and they’ve performed very well. Some of the newest versions like the Proterra E2 are estimated to achieve 350 miles on a charge. I’ve visited with some city staff about the improvements and potential.
North Dakota is an energy powerhouse. We can lead the nation when we work together to leverage technology and existing energy resources with renewable resources to advance our transition into a new age of energy that is ultimately cleaner, more sustainable, and more affordable when all factors are weighed.

Electric Vehicles in ND? Yes We Can!

Volkswagen was caught rigging emissions tests for their diesel vehicles and a court has determined a substantial settlement. Part of the settlement is a requirement for VW to provide clean fuel alternatives across the US.

This is a wonderful opportunity to build on existing and ongoing alternative fuel and efficiency projects in Fargo and across North Dakota and the region.
Currently there is not a strong demand for electric charging stations at this time in ND. Today’s cost of an electric vehicle like a Nissan Leaf is $31,000, still a bit higher than a standard car but with more manufacturers like Chevrolet, Volkwagen, Tesla and others building them, the cost and efficiency will improve.
Why should North Dakota pave the way for electric cars? While we’re a large oil producer, North Dakota doesn’t have any gasoline refining plants and we have to export oil to import gasoline. We can and should do better. Advancing the transition to cleaner electric vehicles would be an incredible advantage for North Dakota. 
We live in a state that produces over twice the electricity (36 million megawatt hours) that we use in state (16 million million megawatt hours) with a growing percentage of electricity being produced with wind, solar, and cleaner burning natural gas. The cost of electric charging at today’s 8-10 cents a KWH is $1 for a gallon equivalent, estimated at 30 mpg, less than half the current cost of gasoline. This type of quick charge station can completely recharge a Nissan Leaf in about 20 minutes for 100 mile range at a cost of less than $3. Here’s a link 
In our Fargo Moorhead area, our  C.L.E.A.N. team (Citizens Local Action Energy Network) is a coalition formed to build on good work by many in a collaborative manner. Among our common goals is to advance clean energy solutions and to aid in the transition to clean fuel vehicles and infrastructure that could include strategically located Electric Vehicle charging stations and infrastructure. Our group responded to Volkswagens call for public proposals for electric vehicle infrastructure with a three phase plan for EV charging corridors. The first would be along I-94, then I-29 followed by Highway #2.
Another great application for electric vehicles would be transitioning our Matbus fleet over time to electric buses. Many larger cities started using these years ago, and some like Duluth and Rochester have been running some of these successfully since 2015 and they’ve performed very well. Some of the newest versions like the Proterra E2 are estimated to achieve 350 miles on a charge. I’ve visited with some city staff about the improvements and potential.
North Dakota is an energy powerhouse. We can lead the nation when we work together to leverage technology and existing energy resources with renewable resources to advance our transition into a new age of energy that is ultimately cleaner, more sustainable, and more affordable when all factors are weighed.

Volkswagen Settlement Will Advance Electric Chargers and Clean Fuels Across the Country

Volkswagen was caught rigging emissions tests for their diesel vehicles and a court has determined a settlement. Part of the settlement is a requirement for VW to provide clean fuel alternatives across the US.
This is a wonderful opportunity to build on existing and ongoing alternative fuel and efficiency projects in Fargo and across North Dakota and the region. To learn more, tune in to KFGO Monday Feb 6 8:00 to 11:00 am. I’m filling in for Joel. At 9:30 we’ll visit with C.L.E.A.N. founder Ed Gruchalla and fellow member Paul Jensen and learn about their proposal to VW to create an EV charging corridor across ND.
While we’re a large oil producer, North Dakota doesn’t have any gasoline refining plants and we have to export oil to import gasoline. We can do better. Advancing the transition to cleaner electric vehicles would be an incredible advantage here.This type of quick charge station can completely recharge a Nissan Leaf in about 20 minutes for 100 mile range at a cost of $3.
We’re a state that produces over twice the electricity than we use locally with a growing percentage of electricity being produced with wind, solar, and cleaner burning natural gas. The cost of electric charging at today’s 8-10 cents a KWH is $1 for a gallon equivalent, estimated at 30 mpg, less than half the current cost of gasoline.
In the Fargo Moorhead area, our  C.L.E.A.N. team (Citizens Local Action Energy Network) is a coalition to build on good work by many in a collaborative manner. Among our common goals is to advance clean energy solutions and to aid in the transition to clean fuel vehicles and infrastructure that could include strategically located Electric Vehicle charging stations and infrastructure.
Thanks to Forum reporter Patrick Springer for the article that’s been printed around the region.
http://www.inforum.com/news/4211608-plan-charging-stations-across-nd-could-give-jolt-electric-cars

FARGO — A group of clean energy advocates is proposing a network of fast-charging stations on major highways crisscrossing North Dakota to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.
Citizens Local Action Energy Network, or CLEAN, based in Fargo, has applied for a grant under Volkswagen’s $11 billion settlement that allocates $7.5 million for North Dakota projects that reduce automobile emissions.
Members of CLEAN believe a network of charging stations, located along Interstates 29 and 94 and U.S. Highway 2, would encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles.
 “The idea is it will facilitate sale of electric vehicles and therefore reduce the emissions,” said Paul Jensen, a member of CLEAN.
Of North Dakota’s $7.5 million allocation under the Volkswagen settlement, 15 percent must go toward infrastructure to support clean energy projects, he said.
In Fargo, the group is recommending charging stations at West Acres Mall and the Roberts Ramp under construction downtown. The group also proposes charging stations along I-94 in Bismarck, Dickinson, Jamestown and Beach; along I-29 t in Pembina, Grand Forks and Hankinson; and along Highway 2 in Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, and New Town, with alternatives in Stanley or Williston.
The equipment cost for a fast-charging station is $30,000 to $35,000, plus $10,000 to $15,000 for installation, said Jensen, who is a green energy consultant.
“The price is continuously going down,” he said.
CLEAN member John Bagu, who leases a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, said they are more economical to drive than gasoline-powered cars. He and his wife also own a gas-powered car, which they use for long trips and as a secondary vehicle.
By his calculations, assuming gas at $2 per gallon, drivers in Fargo and Cass County spend $300 million a year on gas; that figure increases to $500 million per year if gas hits $3.50 per gallon.
 Bagu said his electric car costs a “fraction” of what it costs to fill the tank with gas: about $3 for a charge. “Imagine going to a gas station and paying $3 to fuel up,” he said.
He said it’s also more fun to drive — a source of rivalry with his wife, who also prefers driving their electric car.
 “Now we literally fight over it,” he said. “The loser gets to drive our gas vehicle.”
Bagu, who also has equipped his Fargo home with solar panels and generates his own electricity, estimates there are half a dozen electric vehicles in Fargo, while Jensen estimates there are 50 around North Dakota.
But both said the technology is rapidly advancing and costs are going down. They predict electric vehicles will be widely adopted in time.
South Dakota has placed electric charging stations along Interstate 90, a major tourist highway, said Ed Gruchalla, another CLEAN member.
“They put the chargers in there so people can drive through the state,” he said, noting I-90 is a common route to the Black Hills.
North Dakota’s tourism industry also could benefit from having a network of charging stations to accommodate electric cars, said Mike Williams, a former Fargo city commissioner and a supporter of the proposal.
“It would help the tourism a lot,” he said.

~End article~

 
 
 
 

Love This Day > Winter Solstice

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!” —Thomas Wentworth Higginson
As the daylight wanes quickly in September and October in our part of the country, I start looking forward to this day each year. I enjoy the seasons and the changes they bring, but the sunny, warm days would not be as sweet without winters embrace.
Here’s a well written article about the Winter Solstice by Laura Geggle of Live Science:

Winter Solstice: The Science of the Shortest Day of 2016

Winter Solstice: The Science of the Shortest Day of 2016

On the winter solstice, the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere.

Credit: elod pali | Shutterstock.com

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere officially kicks off Wednesday (Dec. 21), which marks the December solstice — the day with the fewest hours of daylight of 2016.
Although the solstice gets an entire day of recognition, it happens in an instant: at 5:44 a.m. EST (1044 GMT), when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This position leaves the North Pole beyond the sun’s reach, and plunges it into total darkness, according to EarthSky.org.
At this moment, the sun will shine directly overhead at noon at exactly 23.5 degrees south of the equator, along the imaginary latitude line known as the Tropic of Capricorn, which runs through Australia, Chile, southern Brazil and northern South Africa. This is when when the sun appears to be at its southernmost point in the sky; as such, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day of the year, and the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day of the year, on the winter solstice, according to EarthSky. [6 Ancient Tributes to the Winter Solstice]

At 5:44 a.m. EST, the sun will also reach its southernmost point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. After that moment, the sun will stop moving southward and will begin its trek northward in the sky — hence the name “solstice,” which means “sun stands still” in Latin, according to NASA.
After the winter solstice, the days will begin to get longer in the Northern Hemisphere. But that doesn’t mean temperatures will increase immediately. Rather, northern midlatitudes will experience the winter chill partly because they’ll only get about 9 hours of daylight in the weeks following the solstice, compared with the roughly 15 hours of daily sunlight they get around the summer solstice, Live Science reported in 2012. In addition, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, making it colder.
In addition, even as the days get longer, the oceans, which moderate temperatures on land, need a vast amount of energy from the sun to heat up.
There are countless cultures that have recognized the winter solstice. The most famous is in Stonehenge in England. When the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, the sun’s rays align with Stonehenge’s central Altar stone and Slaughter stone, which may have had spiritual significance to the people who built it, Live Science reported in 2013.
Across the world in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient stonewalled Mayan city of Tulum also has a structure honoring the solstices. When the sun rises on the winter and summer solstices, its rays shine through a small hole at the top of one of the stone buildings, which creates a starburst effect.
Original article on Live Science.

Swap Out Your Old Christmas Lights for New Solar Powered LED Tuesday

 
EXCHANGE OLD INCANDESCENT HOLIDAY LIGHTS FOR NEW SOLAR-POWERED LED HOLIDAY LIGHTS! Unplug and bring in your old electric incandescent light string to us and get a new string of zero-energy, solar holiday lights (200 lights, 72’ long)!
The first 12 people to stop by with their old incandescent light strings at the Downtown Fargo or Carlson Library on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016, will receive a string of solar-powered LED holiday lights!
In addition, we will be giving away LED bulbs till supplies last. Holiday strings and LED bulbs are limited to one per household. Old incandescent holiday lights are expensive and waste energy in households.
On average the cost of operating incandescent light strings is $122 versus LED light strings which cost $18 to operate over ten seasons. Using solar lights can save households the burden of ongoing outdoor lighting costs! efargo is a partnership with the City of Fargo, NDSU, Cass County Electric, and Xcel Energy to participate in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. Fargo is currently ranked #3 out 50 cities in the competition. You can help us win the competition by adopting energy-efficiency measures and lowering your energy bills. Go to www.efargo.org to learn more.

NDSU Bison Raise the Level of Performance

So proud of the NDSU Bison football team.
Their commitment to excellence and incredible impact on their peers at all levels over this unprecedented run has inspired other teams to reach a higher level of performance.
That is what true champions do in any field.
A wonderful legacy that will continue next year and beyond.
Hail the Bison!

Transportation Symposium Wednesday Focus on Smart Tools

Hear about the new smart tools to help make active transportation even easier. You can save some cash and time moving around downtown.
Swing by for Wednesday’s Transportation Symposium to learn how. Top it off with a ride to the Everest Tikka House with the special $5 lunch buffet coupon for attendees to our Transportation Symposium that ride the “Link to Lunch” Wednesday. Thanks to Melissa Hanson Rademacher for making arrangements!

Event: Transportation Symposium 

9:30 am Wednesday December 14th

Fargo City Commission room 

It’s exciting to see the cranes and new construction in our revitalizing downtown building on years of good work by many. While this may cause some disruption in the way we move around as we triple the number of residents, businesses, and employees downtown over the next decade, learn how you can adapt, engage, and benefit through this collaborative effort with some new smart tools and small tweaks to your employee and student parking policies.

Free sign up at Eventbrite available but not required

 If you can’t make it, please be sure have someone you know attend and share this invitation. Thanks for your kind consideration! bus-walk-bike
9:30 – 9:45
Rob Lynch Training Coordinator Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute
Rob will share about the work the institute does helping study and improve our local transportation systems.
9:45 – 10:10
Matbus Smart App: Julie Bommelman Lori Van Beek directors, Matthew Peterson and Matbus provide 2.2 million annual rides, they’re not stopping there. They will share the cool new matbus app and integration with google maps and Route Shout. Also a very exciting announcement of an incredible pilot project kick off!

10:15 – 10:40
Walk your way to wealth: Mike Zimney Project Manager Kilbourne Group. Mike will share insights into the role pedestrian friendly environments play in generating an active public realm, higher property values, and strong retail environments.
10:45 – 11:10
Downtown Parking. Presenters: Derrick LaPointe Fargo Parking planner and Andy Renfrew Interstate Parking manager. City staff has been compiling important data to analyze current and future parking needs. This presentation will take a closer look at what data has been collected and what on-going and future projects are planned to help ease parking demands
11:15 – 11:30
Bicycle Education Network. Presenter: Austin Hauf PartnerSHIP 4 Health’s 2016 Active Transportation. Information on StreetsAlive tactical urbanism, Concordia’s BFU award, and the FM Bike Education Network.
11:35 – Noon
Great Rides Bikeshare, Sara Curry, Alyssa Johnson share about the national award for system with most ridership per bike, how new smart tools will make it even easier to ride, and how they’re collaborating to achieve common goals
“Link to Lunch” 12:10 – 1:00 Ride the Fast, Fun, and Free Link to Lunch. The first 25 people that attend and ride the “Link to Lunch” over the noon hour Wednesday will receive a special coupon for $5 lunch buffet at Everest Tikka House. Yum!!!
https://www.facebook.com/events/740071986148791/) See where Link FM is at on the route at: www.matbusmobile.com