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Fargo’s Working to Make Every Day Earth Day. North Dakota Not So Much

One one hand, North Dakota is known for a fairly harsh environment with weather extremes and for higher than average per capita energy use and emissions. When compared with our Minnesota neighbors and other states with effective energy efficiency programs we pale in comparison. Just this week a national rating service Wallethub rated North Dakota 47th in the country for energy efficiency.
Most Environmentally Friendly States

Overall Rank
(1=Greenest)
State Total Score ‘Environmental Quality’ Rank ‘Eco-Friendly Behaviors’ Rank ‘Climate-Change Contributions’ Rank
1 Vermont 75.48 1 1 23
2 Oregon 74.23 3 2 20
3 Massachusetts 72.63 5 10 3
4 New York 72.11 4 19 2
5 South Dakota 70.54 6 5 11
6 Minnesota 69.46 2 14 16
7 Connecticut 68.99 9 22 1
8 New Hampshire 68.49 10 18 5
9 California 67.52 43 3 4
10 Rhode Island 66.68 7 28 6
11 Maine 66.63 13 4 17
12 Nevada 64.83 33 8 7
13 New Jersey 63.42 36 12 9
14 Wisconsin 63.40 8 29 13
15 Idaho 63.35 23 11 12
16 Hawaii 62.82 28 7 10
17 Washington 62.65 12 9 22
18 Maryland 62.19 38 16 8
19 Delaware 60.43 25 21 14
20 Michigan 60.38 11 35 19
21 Colorado 56.45 26 15 33
22 North Carolina 56.25 19 32 21
23 Tennessee 56.07 21 41 18
24 Georgia 55.74 18 27 27
25 Pennsylvania 55.17 17 24 32
26 Illinois 55.15 15 31 30
27 Missouri 54.85 14 42 28
28 Arizona 54.79 42 17 25
29 South Carolina 54.27 31 43 15
30 New Mexico 53.13 39 6 36
31 Iowa 52.99 16 20 40
32 Nebraska 52.87 34 25 31
33 Montana 52.35 44 13 29
34 Florida 51.70 24 39 35
35 Virginia 51.05 40 38 24
36 Alaska 50.79 22 36 37
37 Ohio 49.91 46 30 26
38 Kansas 49.77 29 23 41
39 Utah 48.89 30 34 39
40 Mississippi 45.35 20 45 43
41 Arkansas 44.99 45 44 34
42 Indiana 44.60 27 46 42
43 Texas 44.05 48 33 38
44 Oklahoma 40.82 47 40 44
45 Wyoming 40.44 35 37 46
46 Alabama 40.22 32 48 45
47 North Dakota 39.72 37 26 48
48 Kentucky 31.71 50 47 47
49 Louisiana 26.03 49 49 49
50 West Virginia 25.08 41 50 50

Fargo on the other hand, has been recognized for years as a national leader for innovative energy saving and revenue producing conservation efforts earning the designation by the Earth Day Network as the country’s most environmental city in 2007. Most recently, efargo was one of over 50 cities competing for the 2 year Georgetown University Energy Prize. 
Some good news is Geronimo Energy’s 200 MGW solar array in Cass County could provide the city of Fargo with another great renewable energy source to help us reach our efargo goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Geronimo Energy announced these plans at last years Renewable Energy and Conservation presentation. Local resiliency leaders shared Fargo’s conservation projects and introduction by our grass roots group Citizens Leading Energy Action Network C.L.E.A.N. led by Ed Gruchalla and Paul Jensen.
As the sharing economy is becoming more prevalent, some of us have been working on a feasibility study for allocating some of the new solar and available wind power to Fargo. One way to start this could be allocating offsite renewable power for a pilot hybrid smart meter project that would include: smart chargers, electric car sharing project (EVs to GO) that would help shave peak energy costs, reduce congestion and emissions, store electricity, and add another transportation option that compliments Matbus, Great Rides Bikeshare, carpooling, and walking.  We learned about a similar system at Vulkan 5 in Oslo on our Smart Innovations Learning Tour to Norway in February that I helped coordinate with our eSmart Systems friend Henrik Bache and others.
Photo below. This mixed use residents/commercial/parking development uses mostly renewable energy, has smart EV car charging, and smart meters for the residences to reduce energy use and save money. Norway has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and now a full 50% of new cars purchased are electric.
Here’s an earlier editorial about our efargo team led by Bush Fellow, Young Architect of the Year, and Nominee for YWCA Woman of the Year Malini Srivastava and students and community partners winning the 2 year national competition for the Georgetown University Energy Prize.

Editorial: Fargo’s ‘green city’ efforts save energy and money

The city of Fargo and its partners in conservation have been working hard for years to increase efficiencies and curb energy use. Their comprehensive efforts were recently recognized when they won the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize, a two-year competition between 50 semifinalist cities throughout the nation. Over the two years, the city and its residents saved an estimated $2 million in energy costs. That’s tangible evidence of the benefits of energy conservation, which is too easy to dismiss as the lofty aim of do-gooders. It’s all the more remarkable considering that North Dakota consistently ranks at or near the bottom of states in energy efficiency.
Fargo began working in 2014 with its partners—North Dakota State University, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Xcel Energy and Cass County Electric Cooperative—to form the partnership, called eFargo. But the conservation collaborations evident in Fargo’s winning effort can trace their lineage back years, some instigated by former City Commissioner Mike Williams.

The stench from the city landfill, for instance, prompted city officials in 2009 to turn methane gas into electricity, and convert sewage into water suitable for industrial use. That effort was estimated to contribute $2 million a year to city coffers. Every day, the city treats about 12 million gallons of wastewater. Now up to two million gallons of water per day, once discharged into the Red River, is piped to an ethanol plant in Casselton, earning a profit for the city and reducing the use of groundwater.
Since 2002, the city worked to replace incandescent street light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs, which now illuminate all traffic lights and 85 percent of pedestrian traffic lights, saving $30,000 per year. Similarly, the MATBUS fleet uses biofuel blends and runs eight hybrids to save fuel and therefore reduce emissions. Altogether, city generation from methane, solar power and wind over the years has produced 57.1 million kilowatt hours—impressive, considering 1 kilowatt hour will power a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours. The landfill methane generator produces enough energy to power 700 homes every day.
The eFargo collaboration builds upon that foundation. Among other steps, it resulted in creation of a website that provides tips, data and games, including an evil character, Waste-A-Watt, to encourage energy efficiency and conservation. Students are a major focus of the effort, since they live where most energy is consumed—homes constitute 85 percent of Fargo’s energy use. The efforts saved the equivalent of 50.4 megawatts of power.

Fargo has long prided itself on being a “green city.” The $5 million prize will help spur further efforts that will make the city even greener. Malini Srivastava, a professor at NDSU and leader of the project, hopes to use the prize money to work toward a net-zero carbon future for the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. One of the criteria that enabled Fargo to win the competition was the replicability of its strategies. We should spread the green; more communities would do well to follow Fargo’s lead.
Editorials represent the views of Forum management and the Editorial Board.
~ End Article~
Fargo has made some solid progress building on good work by many proving conservation saves and pays. While it’s good to be recognized as an environmental leader nationally, we have much more work to do to protect our environment and natural resources. Let’s work together to vastly improve our stewardship of the only home we have, planet earth. After all, it’s in our hands. 

Harvesting the sun! North Dakota's first community solar garden

Another Fargo first!!
Thanks to Cass County Electric and their collaborative effort working with their members, our city of Fargo Renewable Energy and Conservation Committee, and ND Dept of Commerce to bring this sunny project to fruition.
June 1st after over two years of working with us at the city and their members, Cass County Electric announced North Dakota’s first community solar garden Prairie Sun Solar Garden. 224 panels will produce 140,000 KWH a year. http://ccecblog.areavoices.com/…/prairie-sun-community-sol…/
Many don’t realize Fargo as as good a solar resource as Germany the worlds top solar country

Solar Map US Spain Germany: This map indicates that solar radiation for North Dakota is equal to or better than that of Spain and Germany which rank respective as the world’s number three and number one countries for solar energy installations.

Solar Map US Spain Germany: This map indicates that solar radiation for North Dakota is equal to or better than that of Spain and Germany which rank respective as the world’s number three and number one countries for solar energy installations.


With great collaborative community projects like this, Fargo’s and North Dakota’s future’s so bright, we have to wear shades!
Here’s the Forum article by Helmut Schmidt:
FARGO — North Dakota has plenty of energy from coal, oil, gas and wind.
Now Cass County Electric Cooperative and the city of Fargo want to add solar to the mix.
Great to see another Fargo first with this collaboration between the city and Cass County Electric.

Great working with Bruce Grubb (shoulder on the left, I didn’t take the picture) and Cass County Electric over the past few years to move forward with North Dakota’s first community solar garden.


Cass County Electric hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Prairie Sun Community Solar array on Wednesday, June 1, in a field about the 5400 block of 63rd Street South in the city’s far southwest reaches.
Paul Matthys, Cass County Electric’s vice president for member and energy services, told those gathered that the 324 panels for the 102-kilowatt installation will make it the largest array in the state, with room on the 350-by-150-foot lot to double in size if demand from co-op members is there.
Matthys said the co-op and the city are “striving to be good stewards of the environment” in looking to add solar to the mix of power sources.
It will be the first community solar installation in the state.
Members can buy a full panel for an upfront price of $700 or a half panel for $350. The utility also has a payment plan available.
The co-op received a $140,000 grant from the state Commerce Department, much of which comes from the federal Department of Energy, said Marshal Albright, Cass County Electric president and CEO. That subsidy cut the cost of the array by 58 percent, making the project economically feasible, he said. Otherwise, the cost per panel would have been $1,670.
So far, about 70 Cass County Electric members have purchased panels and applications and another 100 are being processed, said Matthys, who added that you must be a member of the co-op to buy a panel.
Cass County Electric now produces 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually.
The solar array will produce an estimated 142,000 kilowatt hours a year, he said.
Albright said the co-op already gets 30 percent of its energy from wind power.
“We’ve been a leader in wind energy since Day 1,” he said.
Albright and City Commissioner Mike Williams said talks about the solar array began about two years ago and the city agreed to lease the land for the array at a low cost.
Albright said the demonstration project will allow the co-op to gather data on actual power generation for a solar system in this area, as well as identify maintenance needs.
Andrea Holl Pfennig, a program administrator with the state Department of Commerce, said the project “really puts accessibility (to solar power) in everyone’s hands.”
“I’ve really seen a lot of interest in solar,” Pfennig said.
A much smaller-scale solar project is in operation in Carrington, she said. It is run by the Northern Plains and Dakota Valley electric cooperatives.
Williams said Cass County Electric project has “been a long time coming,” but it will be worthwhile.
“We don’t have oil and coal in Fargo, but we have wind and sun,” he said.
A solar garden will be built in north Moorhead in July
Dennis Eisenbraun, energy services manager for Moorhead Public Service, said the city’s Capture the Sun Community Solar Garden will be on 28th Street.
Moorhead’s solar garden will have 66 non-rotating panels.
Eisenbraun said Moorhead customers will pay $480 for the power output of one panel.
~End article~
Here’s an example of how the cost of renewable energy particularly solar has become more efficient as the cost of the panels have come down sharply. This is Lezard’s levelized cost of energy comparing the various energy sources. 
Let’s keep working to prove conservation saves and pays. Making better use of our resources and being good stewards of our environment is an on going effort. Working together, the best is yet to come!

Fargo's green showcase Wednesday

You’re invited to our Fargo Renewable Energy and Conservation showcase in the Fargo Commission chambers at Fargo City Hall.

Please join us to learn about and celebrate some of Fargo’s more innovative conservation projects that save and pay while protecting our environment.   The event begins at 1:15 Wednesday Sept 11th. 

Program:  10 minute presentations from six conservation leaders in our community. The event will be broadcast live on Fargo Cable Access 12.


  • 1:15 Welcome: Fargo Commissioner Mike Williams will give 5 minutes of highlights on Fargo’s Renewable Energy Committee and introduce the presenters
  • Carmen Miller of the PEW Research Foundation will give an update on our country’s status for renewable energy development and use in the world
  • Dr. John Bagu NDSU professor in Electrical Engineering. He’ll share what he’s learned having installed solar panels on his house in Fargo for his primary energy this past year
  • Michael Burns Architect and entrepreneur will show some of the innovative, architectual interesting, and energy efficient, renovated buildings he’s been a part of such as Renaissance Hall first LEEDs certified building in Fargo.
  • Gregg Schildberg and Kevin Trana of FM Matbus will explain how they’ve helped generate interest and engage people to use our growing transit system. The ridership has increased from 800,000 annual riders in 2004 to now over 2.1 million
  • Malini Srivistav NDSU Adjunct Architecture professor speaks about how she and her students designed and built an award winning Passive House using many recycled and repurposed materials
  • Brian Reinarts Landscape Architect and project designer at Land Elements will give us background on the green roof projects they designed in Fargo at the Hotel Donaldson and 102 on Broadway (Former Straus building)

 Presentations will end at 2:30 and there will be 20 minutes for questions to any of the presenters.

Thank you and hope to see you there. Please forward this invitation to friends that may be interested.

Wow, what a night! Thousands enjoy Parade of Lights

Wonderful crowd at the Xcel Energy Parade of Lights Tuesday night.  It’s such a blast to see so many happy faces as our downtowns celebrate the coming seasons.
These picture below are all from Christopher Smith, he’s a wonderful photographer.  Thanks for sharing Christopher!  Enjoy!

Matbus is in the spirit! You can ride for half price the day after Thanksgiving and every Saturday now through Jan 1st. Save green, ride with us, Matbus!



It’s such a blast to ride with the Fabulous Fargo Firefighters.  Christopher caught the only time we weren’t smiling. We just realized we might run out of candy with the thousands of happy children that enjoyed all the fun. We had just enough, (my wife and I stock up after Halloween for the sales)


This photo by Dan Francis below captured the throngs of happy people participating in the fun!  Thanks Dan, beautiful picture
Thanks to Xcel Energy and Downtown Community Partnership for sponsoring and organizing this fantastic kick off for our holiday seasons!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!
 

Record on taxes is clear

All votes of Fargo city commissioners are public record and are verified in the minutes of all the commission meetings. I’m proud of my record as one who works to engage the community to make better use of existing resources, improve land use, and prove that conservation saves and pays.
Thanks to the Forum for publishing this recent letter to the editor:
Published April 04, 2012, 11:30 PM

Record on taxes is clear

By: Mike Williams, INFORUM

All votes of Fargo city commissioners are public record and are verified in the minutes of all the commission meetings. I’m proud of my record as one who works to engage the community to make better use of existing resources, improve land use, and prove that conservation saves and pays. While I don’t always agree with my fellow commissioners, and my votes prove that, I listen carefully, look for verifiable information, offer viable alternatives and, most importantly, treat people with respect. This is how we make progress.
A recent commentary (March 31) referring to me and my vote on a new Fargo sales tax proposal contained a flood of inaccuracies. Here are a few:
• “Despite his supposed apprehension, Williams voted with the 4-1 majority in favor of the resolution, exposing his concerns as pretense.” Fact: March 19, the commission approved a motion 3-2 putting a question for a new sales tax on the June 12 ballot. I voted against the motion as reflected in the minutes.
• The writer stated that proposed construction for rebuilding the NP and First Avenue North corridors is estimated at $40 million. Fact: Engineers’ preliminary estimates for the NP and First Avenue corridor reconstruction is $4.5 million to $5 million each, not $40 million. The engineers’ estimate for $40 million is for the 5- to 10-year scheduled downtown reconstruction projects from NP Avenue to Sixth Avenue North, as these core streets (excluding Broadway, which was rebuilt recently) and underground are among the oldest.
My record as a sponsor of successful initiated measures that have helped curb unnecessary increases in taxes:
• 1995-96: Wrote the amendment to the Home Rule Charter and worked with friends and neighbors to collect signatures that put a 60 percent voter approval for new Fargo sales/use taxes on the ballot.
• 2002: Worked with John Strand to sponsor an initiated measure to remove the Fargo School District’s unlimited taxing authority. We collected more than 5,200 signatures, and voters approved the mill levy cap. Since that time, thanks to needed state aid, the school mill levy for the general fund decreased from 295.46 to 250 mills.
• 2004: Prior to my election, the Fargo City Commission voted 3-2 to approve a quarter-cent tax on restaurant food. I attended commission meetings to inform them that the commission doesn’t have the authority to pass a sales tax without 60 percent voter approval. They said it wasn’t a sales tax. I worked with the city attorney for an opinion from the state attorney general. He said it was a sales tax, and the commission rescinded the vote.
I believe we need to prioritize our community investments and leverage the gains in energy efficiency, better land use and state aid to help avoid unnecessary new fees. I voted against establishing the new street light fee, voted against the recent water fee, voted against the annexation to 70th Avenue and voted against across- the-board two-year tax exemptions for new homes, no matter where they’re built. We need to target the incentives only for homes in areas with existing infrastructure, to promote infill.
To better protect and avoid new property from future buyouts and expand river capacity, I initiated the discussion for extended river setbacks to prohibit any new construction too close to rivers and drains, which has now been approved.
Fargo is a wonderful community and getting better every day. With your help, we’ll continue to improve and grow beautifully.
 


 
Williams is a Fargo city commissioner. He is seeking re-election.
~ End Article ~
My goals align with what we’ve heard from citizens in our year long GO Fargo 2030 community planning to help with quality growth for a more safe, efficient, and vibrant city.

GO2030 technical staff planners added a industry survey that received 128 responses from Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders members that also favor flood protection, improving Bike/Ped, public art, and improved design standards.
The full community key initiatives ranking is available here.
Key Initiative Guiding Principles identified through GO2030 public responses:

  1. Permanent Flood Protection Water and Environment
  2. Promote Infill Neighborhoods, Infill, and New Development
  3. Public Art Arts and Culture
  4. Bicycle/Pedestrian Infrastructure Transportation
  5. Design Standards Neighborhoods, Infill, and New Development

Corrections on false statements in recent letter

All of our votes as commissioners are public records and are verified in the minutes of all the commission meetings. I’m very proud of my record as one that works to engage the community to make better use of existing resources, improve land use, and prove that conservation saves and pays.  While I don’t always agree with my fellow commissioners, and my votes prove that, I listen carefully, look for verifiable information, offer viable alternatives, and most importantly treat people with respect.  This is how we make progress.
A recent letter to the editor referring to me and my recent vote on a new Fargo sales tax proposal contained a flood of inaccuracies.  Here are a few:

  •  “Despite his supposed apprehension, Williams voted with the 4-1 majority in favor of the resolution, exposing his concerns as pretense.”  Fact: March 19th, the commission approved a motion 3 – 2 putting a question for a new sales tax on the June 12th ballot.   I voted against the motion as reflected in the minutes.
  • The writer stated that proposed construction for rebuilding the NP and 1st Ave N corridors is estimated at $40 million.  Fact:  Engineers preliminary estimates for The NP and 1st Ave Corridor reconstruction is $4.5 – $5 million each, not $40 million.  The engineers estimate for $40 million is for the 5 – 10 year scheduled downtown reconstruction projects from NP Ave north to 6th Ave north as these core streets (excluding Broadway that was rebuilt recently) and underground are among the oldest.   

 
Property taxes are too high.  My record as a citizen grassroots leader and sponsor of successful initiated measures have helped curb unnecessary increases in sales and property taxes.  

  • 1995 – 1996: Wrote the amendment to the Fargo Home Rule Charter and worked with friends and neighbors to collect the thousands of signatures that put a 60% voter approval for any new Fargo sales/use taxes on the ballot.  This helps preserve sales tax for highest priorities. 
  • 2002:  Worked with John Strand to sponsor an initiated measure to remove the Fargo School Districts unlimited taxing authority.  We collected over 5,200 signatures and voters approved the mill levy cap.  Since that time, thanks to needed state aid, the Fargo School mill levy for their general fund decreased from 295.46 to 250 mills.
  • 2004:  Prior to my election, the Fargo Commission voted 3 – 2 to approve a 1/4 cent tax on restaurant food.  I attended several commission meetings to inform them the commission doesn’t have authority to pass a sales tax without the 60% voter approval.  They said it wasn’t a sales tax. I worked with city attorney for opinion from ND Attorney General.  He opined that it was indeed a sales tax and the commission rescinded their vote.

I believe we need to prioritize our community investments and leverage the gains in energy efficiency, better land use, and state aid to help avoid unnecessary new fees.  I voted against establishing the new street light fee, voted against the recent water fee, voted against the annexation to 70th Ave, and voted against across the board two year tax exemptions for new homes no matter where they’re built. We need to target the incentives only for homes in areas with existing infrastructure to promote infill.  
To better protect and avoid new property from future buyouts and expand river capacity, I initiated the discussion for extended river set backs to prohibit any new construction too close to rivers and drains that has now been approved. 
It’s an honor to serve as a commissioner and elections matter.  Fargo is a wonderful community and getting better everyday.  With your help, we’ll continue to improve and grow beautifully.
Mike Williams
My goals align with what we’ve heard from citizens in our year long GO Fargo 2030 community planning to help with quality growth for a more safe, efficient, and vibrant city.

GO2030 technical staff planners added a industry survey that received 128 responses from Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders members that also favor flood protection, improving Bike/Ped, public art, and improved design standards.
The full community key initiatives ranking is available here.
Key Initiative Guiding Principles identified through GO2030 public responses:

  1. Permanent Flood Protection Water and Environment
  2. Promote Infill Neighborhoods, Infill, and New Development
  3. Public Art Arts and Culture
  4. Bicycle/Pedestrian Infrastructure Transportation
  5. Design Standards Neighborhoods, Infill, and New Development

Fargo to kick tires on bike sharing system B-Cycle

B-cycle to demonstrate system in metro

FARGO – A bike-loving city commissioner and a raft of like-minded Internet voters have convinced a bicycle-sharing firm that lets users pay to cycle its bikes around cities to demonstrate the system here.
By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM


image
Fargo led bike-sharing program B-cycle’s “Who Wants It More?” online contest on Friday with more than 200,000 votes. Special to The Forum

Poll

Should Fargo try to establish a bike-sharing system?

 
 
 
 or view poll results »

FARGO – A bike-loving city commissioner and a raft of like-minded Internet voters have convinced a bicycle-sharing firm that lets users pay to cycle its bikes around cities to demonstrate the system here.
Mike Williams, a Fargo city commissioner and local “spokes”-person for alternative transportation, led the push to get a demonstration from B-cycle.
It will be an important opportunity to “kick the tires” and see if the system will work here, he said.
He first invited B-cycle officials to come to Fargo back in June. But B-cycle didn’t put Fargo on the front burner until it blasted past Rochester, N.Y., to top the firm’s “Who Wants It More?” online contest, he said.
Williams, who promoted the contest on his AreaVoices blog and Facebook, said, “The guy (from B-cycle) said they’d never seen this type of activity.”
Fargo led voting Friday with 224,352 votes. Rochester was second with 194,477 votes; Cleveland was third with 147,471 votes; and Moorhead was fourth with 27,778 votes.
Lee Jones, director of sales and marketing for B-cycle, confirmed Friday that B-cycle planned to visit Fargo.
No firm date has been set, but Jones said his firm would like to show off the system during one of the Streets Alive! events scheduled Aug. 28 and Sept. 18.
During Streets Alive!, a 3-mile loop around downtown is closed to vehicles, and use is restricted to bicycles and pedestrians.
Jones said Fargo is big enough for the system, and cold weather hasn’t been an obstacle to getting bike-sharing to work elsewhere.
“I can’t wait to meet some of the folks up there that really got behind this. It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “We’re definitely looking forward to getting up there, to have the opportunity to explain what bike sharing is all about.”
Williams saw the system in use in Denver and Madison, Wis. Fargo’s pied piper of “green” transportation said that if the system looks viable, the next step would be to find a nonprofit group willing to run the system and then find financing.
“It fills a little niche. It can add a little fun. And it’s a way to make connection between transit routes,” said Williams.
B-cycle is a joint venture between health insurance giant Humana Inc., Trek Bicycle Corp. and advertising and design agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
The first of its bike-sharing systems started in Denver in April 2010. It was followed by systems in Hawaii, Chicago, San Antonio, Omaha, Des Moines, Boulder, Colo., Madison, and Spartanburg, S.C.
B-cycle bikes are low-maintenance, cruiser-style bikes developed by Trek. Each has a data-tracking system that calculates mileage, calories burned and carbon pollution kept out of the air by its use.
The docking stations are solar powered, making them easy to move.
Memberships can be purchased for a day or a year.
Jeremy Christianson, manager of the Great Northern Bicycle Co. in downtown Fargo, said B-cycle would fit in with the city’s growing bike culture.
“I think anytime you can get people involved in cycling, it’s good,” he said. “Anything to get people thinking about it is good.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583
~End Article~   See story online here  Thanks for the fun article Helmut!  Here’s more of the “raft” of super people that made this happen:
 

Fargo’s #1 position in B-Cycle online competition brings bike share demonstration to town

Posted on July 7, 2011 by Mike Williams
Good work all, the B-Cycle website is smokin! Just spoke to the B-Cycle system coordinator they’ll be sending their traveling demonstration team and bringing a few bikes and solar powered docking stations to Fargo to demonstrate the bike share system in early September!
WaHOOO!!! Fargo’s sprinted past Rochester NY to #1 in the national online B-Cycle race! 212,600 votes, over 100,000 in less than a day! Thanks to all the Fargo Super Team for leading the way in this B-Cycle competition for them to select Fargo and bring their bike share demonstration team here for us to check it out!  I invited them in early June to try to arrange a visit here this summer, racing into 1st place in a week sure helped make it happen.
Fargo’s now flown by over 299 cities, and rocketed by Rochester NY into 1st place in the nation. What’s B-Cycle about?   Here’s a neat article about the San Antonio B-Cycle bike share system:
No wonder some call him â€œThe Jared of B-cycle.”
In only three months, Phillip Schrank has logged more than 750 miles using San Antonio’s bike-share program, shedding about 45 pounds. He’s B-cycle’s No. 1 user and like the Subway spokesman he’s been compared to a natural booster.
“I call myself the spokes-person” Schrank jokes.
Since the downtown bike share launched this spring, B-cycle users have logged more than 32,400 miles. Some, like Schrank, ride for health reasons, others use the bikes for transportation or just for fun. Many are also enjoying a burgeoning sense of community among riders.

~End article~
So we’ve convinced the B-Cycle system coordinator to arrange a trip for their bike share demonstration crew to come here, thanks to Fargo’s Super team that assembled and pedaled and clicked fast past the competition.  Great work and great news Mr. Fantastic (aka Pete Trelstad) Wonder Woman Susie Ekberg Risher, Superman Jack Sunday, Green Lantern John Jorgensen, The Flash Barry Nelson, Iron Man Frode Tilden, Batman Rory Beil, and all you Fargo Superheroes! Poor Rochester didn’t know what hit em.
You can help keep the lead by going to this link and simply entering your Fargo area zip code: http://bcycle.com/whowantsitmore.aspx

Wonder Woman a.k.a. Susie Ekberg Risher

 

Batman a.k.a. Rory Beil

 

Iron Man a.k.a. Frode Tilden
Mr. Fantastic a.k.a Pete Trelstad

 

Green Lantern a.k.a John Jorgensen
Superman a.k.a Jack Sunday 

The Flash a.k.a. Barry Nelson

 

Keep on clicking you bicyclists! Our goal was to pass Las Vegas (Currently #10) to be in the top 10 by the 4th of July, and we did that on July 1st. On July 6th we passed Rochester NY for 1st place with over 213,000 votes, we had over 100,000 in one day!
Keep putting in your zip code and spreading the word if you’d like to see B-Cycle bike share program in our area.
Visit the B-Cycle bike ride share site and enter your zip code here

Many of the comments at Fargo’s public outreach and input at the GO2030 townhall mindmixer online and opening session are centered around a more active community with more walking, biking, and transit opportunities. This might be a good fit?

Denver was the first site for this private, non-profit, bike sharing program. Now Minneapolis has the most bikes and stations in the country. Other cities with four seasons such as Madison Wisconsin, and Des Moines, Iowa also have the bike share system in place. They do shut down in the winter, even in Denver.
The stations are solar powered and use a membership card system to access a bike. It’s not meant as a bike rental system, it’s programmed to help folks get from place to place and dock it when you arrive.

 

How B-cycle Works

Follow these easy steps

Sign In

Sign up online or purchase a 24-hour membership at a B-station.

Select

Choose a bike from any B-station.

Ride

Grab your bike and go.

Return

Park your B-cycle at any B-station

 
Keep putting in your zip code and spreading the word if you’d like to see B-Cycle bike share here.
Visit the B-Cycle bike ride share site and enter your zip code here

WSJ article: North Dakota Universities attracting students from all over the nation

A student from Connecticut says it’s because of the beautiful tree lined campus at NDSU and Fargo’s downtown offerings.  From the article:
{She chose it over nine other schools because of the beauty of its tree-lined campus and the personal attention she received from the zoology faculty during her visit. Also, she says, “Downtown Fargo has the restaurants, the coffee bars, the cultural stuff I want.”
The aspiring marine veterinarian was delighted that the school helped her obtain summer internships at aquariums in Rhode Island and Florida. Ms. Malinowski is the first Miss Porter’s graduate on record to attend North Dakota State.
“I won’t be the last,” she says.}
Here’s the article from the Wall Street Journal in full:

By KEVIN HELLIKER

Frigid North Dakota Is a Hot Draw For Out-of-State College Students

 

[DAKOTA]Dan KoeckA football game at North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D. About 55% of students come from elsewhere.

FARGO, N.D.—As a high school senior from Connecticut, Diva Malinowski took a coast-to-coast tour of 10 public universities, bearing acceptance letters from each.
She fell in love in Fargo.

Ben GreenNorth Dakota State senior Diva Malinowski came from a Connecticut boarding school.

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“The minute I stepped onto campus, I knew that North Dakota State was for me,” says Ms. Malinowski, a 21-year-old senior who matriculated from Miss Porter’s School, a private academy for girls in Farmington, Conn.
Ms. Malinowski is evidence of an unlikely trend: the growing allure of higher education in North Dakota. The state ranks 48th in the U.S. at attracting tourists. Its young people routinely flee for warmer or more exciting places. The private sector here, struggling to lure sufficient numbers of workers from elsewhere, is wrestling with labor shortages even amid national unemployment around 9%.

A State-by-State Report Card

Compare numbers and percent of in- and out-of-state students.

But college students are flocking here in ever greater numbers. Out-of-state students account for about 55% of the 14,500 enrolled at North Dakota State University, as well as at similarly sized University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Nonresident students at North Dakota’s 11 public colleges constitute a higher ratio than in almost every other state.
High school juniors and seniors scouring online college guides find North Dakota universities are inexpensive and well-regarded, with modest-sized classes typically taught by faculty members rather than adjuncts or graduate students.
“I found it online, showed it to my Dad and he was impressed,” says California resident Samantha Carlson, who graduated in May from North Dakota’s Valley City State University, where her younger brother is now enrolled. For California residents, North Dakota colleges cost about $10,000 a year in tuition and fees compared to about $12,000 in the University of California system.
Many students hail from states far beyond the region. Floridians numbered 182 in 2010, up from 37 in 2000. During the same period, international enrollment rose to 1,600 from 1,125.
“My roommates are from Mongolia and South Korea,” says Delaney McCormack, a Kansas resident studying technical theatre and design at North Dakota State.

This isn’t happening by accident. A dozen years ago, a years-long decline in the number of state high school graduates was accelerating. Faced with the prospect of closing academic departments or entire schools, university leaders instead moved to attract more students, particularly from beyond state borders.
The state poured money into improving academics. In the National Science Foundation’s rankings by federal research expenditures—a key measure of prestige for research universities—North Dakota State and University of North Dakota each jumped ahead of more than 30 other institutions over the past 11 years, to the 147th and 143rd spots, respectively.
While improving its schools, North Dakota kept tuition low. In recent years, state revenues gushing from an oil boom in western North Dakota have given the state more resources to lure nonresidents.
The result: Even as the number of North Dakota high school graduates fell below 7,400 in 2010 from 9,058 in 2000, enrollment at public colleges surged, climbing 38% in the decade ended in 2010, to 48,120. Leading that growth was a 56% jump in nonresident students.

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Out-of-state students who have stayed after graduation have helped reverse a decades-long population decline, with North Dakota now on the verge of breaking its 1930 record of 681,000 people.
“For anyone who wants to be at a place on the rise, this is it,” says NDSU President Dean Bresciani, the former vice chancellor of student affairs at Texas A&M University. He sees other cash-strapped states as ripe for raids on students, faculty and administrators. “Not to be a vulture about it,” he says, “but this is a fantastic opportunity.”
Out-of-state students fill both classrooms and budget holes. Traditionally, states charge nonresidents tuition and fees as much as triple that charged to residents. The premium is especially tempting now as state legislatures nationwide slash outlays for higher education.
Facing a funding cut of $650 million or more, the University of California system sent a record 18% of its undergraduate admission letters for the upcoming semester to non-residents, up from 12% in 2009. One goal: to collect a $23,000 premium imposed on out-of-staters, bringing their annual tuition-and-fees to about $35,000.
Luring nonresidents is growing more crucial as the demographic dilemma North Dakota confronted years ago spreads to other states. Due to population shifts, 27 states will see declines in home-grown high-school graduates in the next five to 10 years, says a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education.
As public colleges and universities battle across state lines, “there will be winners and there will be losers,” says R. Michael Tanner, an executive of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
Among probable winners will be academically elite public colleges such as some in California, Texas, Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina, along with colleges in tourist destinations such as Arizona and Colorado.
Touting both advantages is Vermont, the nation’s top nonresident magnet. A once-private public college that offers academic cachet near wooded hills laced with ski slopes, the University of Vermont draws 75% of its freshman class from other states, even though it charges nonresidents tuition of $32,500, about $20,000 more than residents pay.

Dan KoeckCommunication students work together on a project.

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The battle could be fiercest for a type of enrollee who until now has gone largely unnoticed: the out-of-state bargain hunter. Although many public colleges have long offered out-of-state tuition below $20,000, few have advertised it, largely to avoid antagonizing state lawmakers who believe state schools should serve state residents.
But political opposition is generally waning amid the depleted budgets and declining high school grads. Caps on nonresident enrollment are loosening in many states. “Out of state tuition might be cheaper than you think,” said a recent press release from San Diego State University, touting its nonresident rate of under $16,000.
No place has proved more popular with bargain-hunting nonresidents than flat, cold, landlocked North Dakota.
The state has a long tradition of spending generously on higher education. Some in the heavily Republican state have complained that it is academically “socialist.” To make sure no North Dakotans had to travel far to attend college, the state has 11 public colleges, including half as many four-year institutions as Minnesota—a state with eight times as many people.
In 1999, the state legislature assembled a committee of 63 leaders of government and business to debate whether to cut classes and departments. After all, North Dakota in 1999 produced fewer than 9,000 high school graduates, down from 10,740 in 1980.
In the end, however, the so-called “Roundtable” committee vowed to bolster their university system in a bid to exploit its potential as an economic development asset. All along, North Dakota’s 11 public colleges had provided economic stability to up-and-down agricultural towns like Mayville and Dickinson.
In a May 2000 report, the committee laid out a plan to attract ever-greater numbers of nonresident students to North Dakota universities, and help those universities spawn private enterprise that would hire those students upon graduation. Higher education would become a “primary engine in reversing” the state’s economic and demographic woes, the report said.
A key to attracting out-of-staters was undercutting other states on price.
The highest-priced public colleges in North Dakota—UND and NDSU—officially charge nonresident students about $17,000 in tuition and fees. That’s half what nonresident students pay at many public colleges elsewhere. And it’s less than some in-state rates at public colleges in places like Illinois and Pennsylvania.
But as it happens, few nonresidents at UND or NDSU pay anywhere near that rate. That’s because North Dakota belongs to consortiums in which it and about 20 other states agreed to charge each other’s students no more than 1.5 times in-state rates.
As others raised tuition, North Dakota held its price down. In many cases, North Dakota waived the premium, enabling out-of-staters to enroll full-year for about $7,000, lower than resident tuition in most other states.
Traffic charts of higher-education consortiums in this region show heavy student migration toward North Dakota. In a Midwest student-exchange program in 2009, North Dakota enrolled 557 students from Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and three other neighboring states, while losing only 39 North Dakotans to the bunch of them.
A Western consortium of 15 states including California, Oregon and Arizona delivered 1,604 students to North Dakota in 2010, while attracting only 367 North Dakotans.
Especially productive is North Dakota’s reciprocity agreement with Minnesota next door. In the school year ended in 2010, 8,381 Minnesotans studied in North Dakota, compared with 4,781 North Dakotans going the other way. Minnesotans can enroll at North Dakota State or University of North Dakota for tuition of about $7,200, compared with in-state tuition at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis of about $10,000.
For other states, competing with North Dakota on the cost of education is difficult. As other states battle budget shortfalls, oil revenues this past year enabled North Dakota to run a billion-dollar surplus, and to fund a 13.4% increase over two years in appropriations to the North Dakota university system. That followed higher-education budget boosts of 20.6% in 2009 and 13.5% in 2007.
The increases help keep tuition low while paying for improvements. As its enrollment grew by nearly 50% in the past 11 years, North Dakota State more than doubled its doctorate programs, to 44 from 18.
Its annual research expenditures have climbed to $120 million from $45 million a decade ago. In February, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education reclassified the school as a “very high research activity” institution, placing it among the nation’s top 108 private and public universities.
The influx of out-of-state students to the school has benefited Fargo’s economy. North Dakota research indicates that about 39% of nonresidents remain in the state at least one year after graduation. The city’s population has risen to 105,000, 16% higher than in 2000, and an array of defense, medical, computer science and other firms have sprouted along the Red River corridor stretching north to Grand Forks and UND. City leaders say that its image finally is recovering from the Oscar-winning 1996 film “Fargo,” which described it as “the middle of nowhere.”
After graduating from North Dakota State in 2010, Sri Lanka native Maduka Bandara started working as an engineer at Pedigree Technologies, an information-technology firm, founded by a 1997 graduate. “The quality you get for the affordability at NDSU is very good,” says Mr. Bandara.
To recruit in other states, both UND and North Dakota State spend on advertisements in magazines and on cable channels such as Comedy Central. Each also has stationed a full-time recruiter in their largest out-of-state market, Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
Increasingly their reach is extending beyond the Great Plains and Mountain West.
As a senior at Miss Porter’s, the 168-year-old Connecticut boarding school, Ms. Malinowski learned about North Dakota State during a computer search for undergraduate programs in zoology.
She chose it over nine other schools because of the beauty of its tree-lined campus and the personal attention she received from the zoology faculty during her visit. Also, she says, “Downtown Fargo has the restaurants, the coffee bars, the cultural stuff I want.”
The aspiring marine veterinarian was delighted that the school helped her obtain summer internships at aquariums in Rhode Island and Florida. Ms. Malinowski is the first Miss Porter’s graduate on record to attend North Dakota State.
“I won’t be the last,” she says.

GO2030 speaker forum presents Rick Harrison on designing “Prefurbia”

‎”The built environment is the product of our imagination and our work, and it is where we spend nearly all of our time, yet it is also the source of many chronic diseases and natural resource challenges we face.” is a quote from this interesting article from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
If this article interests you, here’s a great opportunity to learn more about healthy community and urban design at  www.go2030.net speakers forum tomorrow night.
Tuesday night 7 p.m. at the Fargo Commission Room, urban designer Rick Harrison will give a presentation on “Prefurbia” his term for building more healthy, attractive, efficient, and fun communities.
Speaker Bio:
Rick Harrison, author of Prefurbia and creator of Coving, is president of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio, which offers cutting-edge design solutions that enhance quality of life with the beauty of the natural environment.
Title of Lecture:
“The Performance Planning Systems deliver added value by sustainable design for all stakeholders in the development of land.”
Lecture Summary:
Prefurbia Workshop:  A collection of innovations in design and technology specific to sustianable development that provides a ‘preferred’ standard of living for both urban and suburban dwellers.  Prefurbia – this 90 minute workshop will teach solutions for developers, builders, consultants, regulators, and municipal staff on how to build developments that are both environmentally and economically superior to conventional methods.  Prefurbia also includes new ways to regulate that encourage better development and higher quality housing.
Hope to see you there!  You can submit your ideas for Fargo’s future and see what others are sharing at:  http://www.go2030townhall.com/
 

GO2030 speaker forum presents Rick Harrison on designing "Prefurbia"

‎”The built environment is the product of our imagination and our work, and it is where we spend nearly all of our time, yet it is also the source of many chronic diseases and natural resource challenges we face.” is a quote from this interesting article from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
If this article interests you, here’s a great opportunity to learn more about healthy community and urban design at  www.go2030.net speakers forum tomorrow night.
Tuesday night 7 p.m. at the Fargo Commission Room, urban designer Rick Harrison will give a presentation on “Prefurbia” his term for building more healthy, attractive, efficient, and fun communities.
Speaker Bio:
Rick Harrison, author of Prefurbia and creator of Coving, is president of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio, which offers cutting-edge design solutions that enhance quality of life with the beauty of the natural environment.
Title of Lecture:
“The Performance Planning Systems deliver added value by sustainable design for all stakeholders in the development of land.”
Lecture Summary:
Prefurbia Workshop:  A collection of innovations in design and technology specific to sustianable development that provides a ‘preferred’ standard of living for both urban and suburban dwellers.  Prefurbia – this 90 minute workshop will teach solutions for developers, builders, consultants, regulators, and municipal staff on how to build developments that are both environmentally and economically superior to conventional methods.  Prefurbia also includes new ways to regulate that encourage better development and higher quality housing.
Hope to see you there!  You can submit your ideas for Fargo’s future and see what others are sharing at:  http://www.go2030townhall.com/