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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. 

Oil and Coal Subsidies/incentives Are Baked Into Pseudo US Energy “Market”

A recent blog featured in the Forum Opinions page erroneously stated the Production Tax Credit for wind energy is (as he states it in the article) a “Completely perverse 23 cents kwh”.  This is simply not true, the PTC before 12-31-16 was 0.023 or 2.3 cents/kwh and now it’s 0.0184 or 1.8 cents/kwh.
Here is that information from the Energy.gov site:
Applying the inflation-adjustment factor for the 2016 calendar year, the production tax credit amount is as follows:

  • $0.023/kWh for wind, closed-loop biomass, geothermal energy resources, and solar systems that have not claimed the Investment Tax Credit
  • $0.012/kWh for open-loop biomass, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, qualified hydroelectric, and marine and hydrokinetic energy resources

The tax credit is phased down for wind facilities and expires for other technologies commencing construction after December 31, 2016. The phase-down for wind facilities is described as a percentage reduction in the tax credit amount described above:

  • For wind facilities commencing construction in 2017, the PTC amount is reduced by 20%
  • For wind facilities commencing construction in 2018, the PTC amount is reduced by 40%
  • For wind facilities commencing construction in 2019, the PTC amount is reduced by 60%

Note that the exact amount of the production tax credit for the tax years 2017-2019 will depend on the inflation-adjustment factor used by the IRS in the respective tax years.
~End Chart ~
The misinformation campaigns about our current energy “Markets” such as the PTC being 23 cents is having a detrimental effect to renewable energy projects in North Dakota. Recently Xcel Energy announced they wanted to install another 300 mgw of wind production in South Dakota. They have plans for more projects that combine natural gas peaking with wind generation. Instead of throwing up obstacles, a welcoming atmosphere for these projects would help North Dakotans benefit by becoming a renewable energy leader.
The PTC subsidies are being reduced even though they are a fraction of those coal and oil subsidies that have been developed and ingrained in the skewed energy “Market” for over a century. Reducing the PTC while wind, solar, and geothermal are produced at scale at a lower cost per unit of energy produced could be a good strategy as long as we also recognize and reduce subsidies ingrained in our country’s policies for fossil fuels.
Here are some research statistics from Oil Change International in an article by Vox writer David Roberts:

fossil fuel subsidies(OSI)

You probably can’t read that text, so here are the top six:

  • Intangible drilling oil & gas deduction ($2.3 billion)
  • Excess of percentage over cost depletion ($1.5 billion)
  • Master Limited Partnerships tax exemption ($1.6 billion)
  • Last-in, first-out (LIFO) accounting ($1.7 billion)
  • Lost royalties from onshore and offshore drilling ($1.2 billion)
  • Low-cost leasing of coal-production in the Powder River Basin ($963 million)

(I listed six because that sixth one is the biggie for coal.)

As subsidies age, they start to look less like subsidies. They start looking like fixed features of the landscape, like mountains or rivers, rather than choices we are making. They just look like the status quo.

How does this compare to renewable energy subsidies? In terms of permanent tax expenditures, fossil fuels beat renewables by a 7-1 margin:

energy subsidies(OCI)

(The primary federal tax supports for renewable energy — the investment and production tax credits, respectively — are not permanent. They are set to phase out over the next five years, and are politically vulnerable in the meantime. But if you include them, Stephen Kretzmann of OCI confirmed for me over email, permanent fossil tax breaks still win, at $7.4 billion to $5.6 billion.)

If you ask people in fossil fuel industries, their support staff in conservative think tanks, or fossil-state politicians, they will tell you why these fossil fuel production subsidies are necessary. It’s always been this way. They’re more than paid back by tax revenue. Other industries get them too. (For the record: More than half the $20 billion is available to fossil fuels alone). They create jobs. They’re important for national security. Tax expenditures aren’t subsidies at all, if you think about it. Etc.

Speaking of rent-seeking, here’s a final fun factoid from OCI:

In the 2015-2016 election cycle, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $354 million in campaign contributions and lobbying and received $29.4 billion in federal subsidies in total over those same years — an 8,200% return on investment.

Not bad.

                                                                       ~ End Article ~
Our country’s energy policies need to evolve beyond a system based on a century of oil and coal production in what has been and continues to be a skewed “market” that counter productively extends our country’s dependence on one time harvest fossil fuels. This while countries around the world and some states are embracing technology and cleaner renewable energy, storage, along with more efficient and resilient distributed energy systems now being developed close to Moores Law speed. There are already far more people employed in the solar industry field than in the coal industry and the renewable energy job market continues to grow. 
North Dakota is not moving forward if our state leaders and Public Service Commission continue to focus their efforts and our public money on extending our dependence and production of last century’s fuels with projects like the Allam Cycle that the developer can’t find banks to loan money for perhaps because banks recognize coal is a finite resource and not viable as a energy of the future.
Instead we could convert older coal plants to burn available natural gas that is currently being flared. This type of plant is more adaptive and interacts better with intermittent wind and solar generation. This would be a cleaner transitional step while we focus on helping develop energy storage systems and distributed energy.
A solid path forward is embracing technology and helping develop and use cleaner renewable energy and storage solutions that will help make North Dakota an energy leader into the future.

North Dakota’s Electric Costs Are Second Lowest in the Nation, Yet We Pay More Per Month Than Minnesota

Why are Minnesota’s average electric bills of $108, so much less than ND’s $140 a month on average? North Dakota cost per KWH of electricity of 8.1 cents per KWH, that’s more than 20% less than Minnesota. How can this be?
Answer: North Dakota’s average homes and businesses are not as energy efficient. Conservation is conservative, let’s not waste watts and money.
efargo logo
Thanks to good work by Malini Srivastava and her team www.efargo.org has answers for simple ways we can all save money and energy. Through their hard work developing partnerships with the city, schools, power providers, and mostly young students efargo is in 3rd place in the Georgetown University Energy ChallengeScreenshot 2016-03-14 11.49.26
This article in today’s Forum by Ryan Johnson, helps explain why efargo’s work is so important:
North Dakota is the country’s sixth most energy-expensive state, according to a new analysis from WalletHub. Special to The Forum
FARGO—North Dakotans spend a chunk of change on their energy bills each month, according to a new analysis.
Finance website WalletHub looked into average monthly energy bills for electricity, natural gas, automobile fuel and home heating oil in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to come up with new rankings released last week that found North Dakota is the country’s sixth most energy-expensive state, while Minnesota was the 20th most expensive.
North Dakota’s average monthly bill of $328 ranked among the highest in the country in part because the state had the highest electricity consumption per consumer, not to mention the third-highest monthly cost of motor fuel at $149.
Minnesota had an average monthly bill of $299. Residents there spent more on automobile fuel ($128, No. 8) and natural gas ($57, No. 10) than the national average, but the state’s ranking was improved by spending less on electricity—$108 compared to North Dakota’s $140 each month.
~End Article~
Here’s our North Dakota ranking as second lowest cost per kilowatt hour in the nation 8.1 cents kwh compared to Minnesota’s 10.9 cents kwh.
http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/10/27/141766341/the-price-of-electricity-in-your-state

But there’s huge variation from state to state. Here’s a map of residential electricity prices, according to the Energy Information Administration.
People in Hawaii pay the most for electricity, about 33 cents per kWh. A Hawaiian household whose electricity use was around the national average would have a monthly electric bill over $300. The high cost of crude oil used to generate the state’s electricity is driving the price, EIA energy economist Tyler Hodge told me.
 
Idaho had the lowest price, at about 8 cents per kWh. So the typical US household would pay about $73 for electricity each month in Idaho. Hodge says Idaho generates much of its electricity from hydroelectric dams, which require virtually no fuel. Also, the cost of constructing the dams have been spread out over many decades. This all has kept electricity prices in Idaho low.

Rank State Price (in cents)
1 Idaho 8.0
2 North Dakota 8.1
3 Washington 8.2
4 Arkansas 8.7
5 Utah 8.8
6 Louisiana 8.9
7 Wyoming 8.9
8 South Dakota 9.0
9 Nebraska 9.0
10 Kentucky 9.0
11 West Virginia 9.2
12 Oklahoma 9.2
13 Oregon 9.4
14 Montana 9.6
15 Missouri 9.7
16 Tennessee 9.8
17 Indiana 10.0
18 North Carolina 10.2
19 Mississippi 10.3
20 Iowa 10.5
21 Kansas 10.5
22 Virginia 10.5
23 New Mexico 10.7
24 Minnesota 10.9
25 South Carolina 11.0
26 Arizona 11.1
27 Georgia 11.1
28 Alabama 11.1
29 Colorado 11.2
30 Ohio 11.2
31 Texas 11.3
32 Illinois 11.7
33 Florida 11.7
34 Nevada 11.7
35 Michigan 13.0
36 Wisconsin 13.0
37 Pennsylvania 13.2
38 Maryland 13.7
39 District of Columbia 13.7
40 Delaware 13.7
41 Massachusetts 14.8
42 Rhode Island 14.9
43 California 15.2
44 Maine 15.5
45 Vermont 16.1
46 New Jersey 16.3
47 New Hampshire 16.5
48 Alaska 17.5
49 Connecticut 18.1
50 New York 18.1
51 Hawaii 33.2

 

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!
 

Citizens helping shape Fargo's future with GO2030

Thanks to all the folks that have been sharing their ideas and dreams for Fargo’s future in our GO2030 planningto help keep Fargo improving. It’s interesting to see all the energy and thought put into the ideas generated so far.  This editorial is a good synopsis of many of the items that are high priorities to the residents young and old that are weighing in to help make Fargo an even more vibrant, healthy, attractive, efficient and affordable city where people want to live, work, learn and play.

As mid-sized cities go, Fargo is managed very well. It is (as they used to say about Chicago) a city that works. The city’s leadership for the past 25 years or so has been mostly enlightened and visionary in its handling of the city’s steady growth. Rapid and historic changes in both the city’s population mix and economic base have been integrated into Fargo’s overall formula for success. Hardly a month goes by when some national assessment puts Fargo as one of the best places in the nation in which to live and work. As mid-sized cities go, Fargo is managed very well. It is (as they used to say about Chicago) a city that works.

The city’s leadership for the past 25 years or so has been mostly enlightened and visionary in its handling of the city’s steady growth. Rapid and historic changes in both the city’s population mix and economic base have been integrated into Fargo’s overall formula for success. Hardly a month goes by when some national assessment puts Fargo as one of the best places in the nation in which to live and work.

So it is heartening, but no real surprise, that Fargo leaders and planners are building a comprehensive plan that looks to the future – to at least 2030, to be precise. Meetings are under way by which residents can participate in the process. A framework of forward-looking ideas and concepts will be filled in with pragmatic strategies. Realistic goals will be set. Progressive urban planning initiatives will lead Fargo into a future brighter than its clearly bright recent past.

The 2030 outlook comports nicely with the way Fargo’s leaders and involved residents raised the city’s standards. Enhancing “quality of life” encompasses nearly everything a city must do to remain competitive and appealing. Fargo has measured up well and looks to do even better.

For example, Fargo is a national leader in the green revolution. The city, mostly because of the focus of City Commissioner Mike Williams, has quietly and effectively stressed renewable energy in everything from the bus system to the way the landfill is managed.

The city has embraced facilities and activities that promote a healthy lifestyle, and thus a healthy population. Residents want more walking and bicycle trails. They want more access to the natural environments along the urban Red River. Given the weather, they see a need for indoor gathering places, such as a water park or recreation center. While they understand the flooding caused by the Red River, they want to use the river as a resource for festivals, farmers markets and other outdoor events.

Among priorities: finding ways to better manage the city’s growth by blending neighborhoods and filling in already established developments rather than promoting urban sprawl. An urban environment that is people-centered and neighborhood friendly is appealing, not only to homeowners, but also to businesses. A well-managed, safe, (relatively) low-tax city will attract businesses. Fargo has demonstrated that it indeed is a place where businesses and industry of all kinds can thrive.

The ongoing planning process continues the city’s determination to accommodate growth and change before they become unmanageable. No city gets it right all the time. Fargo has made its share of mistakes. But the missteps are the exceptions in a city that knows how to manage growth, serve its people and adopt the newest and best urban practices. ~ End Article~