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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. 

Multiple sightings of blazing fireball across ND sky last night

Interesting. Here’s some of the reports from area residents about a blazing streak of light in the sky seen from ND to TX.  http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.com/2011/08/mbiq-indicates-meteor-event-over-north.html

lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.com

Fireballs, Meteors, Bolides, Meteorites, Comets, Asteroid Impact,Meteorite Quest, Recent Meteorite Falls & Related News. Make a meteor report.

http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.com/2011/08/mbiq-indicates-meteor-event-over-north.html
 
 

I wonder if this had something to do with these sightings?   

www.msnbc.msn.com

Russia’s space agency says an unmanned supply ship bound for the International Space Station has failed to reach its planned orbit.
Here’s a photo of a Progress Cargo space craft.  It’ll be interesting to follow the story.  Stay tuned

Newsweek digs Fargo's downtown

Except that they got local entrepreneur and visionary Karen Stokers name wrong, this is a neat article in Newsweek about Fargo and North Dakota. Here’s a quote, followed by the article:

"On a drizzly, warm June night, the bars, galleries, and restaurants along Broadway are packed with young revelers. Traffic moves slowly, as drivers look for parking. The bar at the Donaldson, a boutique hotel, is so packed with stylish patrons that I can’t get a drink. My friend, a local, and I head over to Monte’s, a trendy Italian place down the street. We watch a group of attractive 30-something blondes share a table and gossip. They look like the cast of the latest Housewives series.

The Great Great Plains
How heartland cities like Fargo and Omaha became the nation’s new boomtowns.

On a drizzly, warm June night, the bars, galleries, and restaurants along Broadway are packed with young revelers. Traffic moves slowly, as drivers look for parking. The bar at the Donaldson, a boutique hotel, is so packed with stylish patrons that I can’t get a drink. My friend, a local, and I head over to Monte’s, a trendy Italian place down the street. We watch a group of attractive 30-something blondes share a table and gossip. They look like the cast of the latest Housewives series.
It might sound like an evening in the Big Apple, but this Broadway runs through downtown Fargo, N.D. A decade ago, this same street was just another unremarkable central district in a Midwestern town: bland restaurants, adequate hotels, no decent coffee. After the local stores closed for the day, the street was mostly populated by a few hard-drinking louts.
That has all changed, part of a transformation that foreshadows the growth of the vast Great Plains region. “I come from a big city, but I like the lifestyle here,” says Marshall Jackson, an African-American who played football for the nearby University of Minnesota, Crookston, and now works for the local Audubon Society. “In a decade this place will be a small Minneapolis. Everyone sees a bright future ahead.”

Jackson may be an anomaly in this still homogeneous state—the population is more than 90 percent white, and Native Americans constitute the largest minority by far—but he senses something very real. Throughout the good times and, more important, the bad of this new millennium, the cities of the plains—from Dallas in the south through Omaha, Des Moines, and north to Fargo—have enjoyed strong job growth and in-migration from the rest of the country. North Dakota boasts the nation’s lowest unemployment rate—3.6 percent in May, compared with the national average of 9.7—with South Dakota and Nebraska right behind it.
The trend has been particularly strong in urban areas. Based on employment growth over the last decade, the North Dakota cities of Bismarck and Fargo rank in the top 10 of nearly 400 metropolitan areas, according to data analyzed by economist Michael Shires for Forbes and NewGeography.com. Much of that growth has come in high-wage jobs. In Bismarck, the number of high-paying energy jobs has increased by 23 percent since 2003, while jobs in professional and business services have shot up 40 percent.
That’s not bad for a region best known by East Coast pundits for the movie Fargo. It got so bad a decade ago that even local boosters suggested North Dakota jettison the “North” to make the place seem less forbidding. Two Eastern academics, Frank J. Popper and Deborah Popper, predicted that the region would, in a generation, become almost totally depopulated, and proposed that Washington speed things along and create “the ultimate national park.” Their suggestion: restock the buffalo.
Certainly, many small towns across the plains—such places as Reeder, N.D., which lost its only school, or Mott, N.D., with its struggling downtown—have withered. Others are likely to disappear altogether. But growth has rebounded in larger towns, according to Debora Dragseth, an associate professor of business at Dickinson State University. She describes places like Fargo—with a population approaching 200,000—as “sponge cities,” absorbing population from rural areas. Just a decade ago, those people fled the region entirely.
The primary drivers of this new growth, says Dragseth, are basic industries like agriculture and energy. Salaries may be low by coastal standards, but so are living costs. And the prices of commodities like beef, soybeans, and grains have generally continued to rise, due in large part to growing demand from China, India, and other developing countries.
But the biggest play by far is in energy, including coal, natural gas, and oil, which exist in prodigious quantities from Texas to the Canadian border. Besides the vast reserves of oil that have made it the country’s fourth-largest producer, North Dakota possesses significant deposits of natural gas and coal, as well as huge potential for wind power and biofuels. These industries are drawing hundreds of skilled workers from places like California and Michigan, who are moving into Bismarck, the state’s capital, and towns to the west.
The energy boom has placed states like the Dakotas and Texas in an enviable fiscal situation. Oil and gas revenues are filling up their coffers, allowing them to eschew the painful cutbacks affecting most coastal states. North Dakota has a $500 million surplus, and next year the cash gusher could rise to more than $1 billion, estimates Dragseth. That could go a long way in a state with barely 600,000 people.
Of course, the people of the plains have seen booms before—commodity prices soared early in the last century, and there was an oil-fired boom back in the 1970s. But growing demand in developing countries could sustain long-term increases of energy and agricultural products. Niles Hushka, CEO of Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, a growing engineering firm active in Bismarck, sees other factors working for the plains. The public schools are excellent; the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas enjoy among the highest graduation rates in the country. North Dakota itself ranks third and Minnesota fourth (after Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts) in the percentage of residents between 25 and 34 with college degrees.
Nowhere is this potential clearer than in Fargo, which is emerging as a high-tech hub. Doug Burgum, from nearby Arthur, N.D., founded Great Plains Software in the mid-1980s. Burgum says he saw potential in the engineering grads pumped out by North Dakota State University, many of whom worked in Fargo’s large and expanding specialty-farm-equipment industry. “My business strategy is to be close to the source of supply,” says Burgum. “North Dakota gave us access to the raw material of college students.”
Microsoft bought Great Plains for a reported $1.1 billion in 2001, establishing Fargo as the headquarters for its business-systems division, which now employs more than 1,000 workers. The tech boom started by Burgum has spawned both startups and spin-offs in everything from information technology to biomedicine. Science and engineering employment statewide has grown by 31 percent since 2002, the highest rate of any state.

~This is Karen Stoker owner of the Hotel Donaldson.  The article incorrectly referred to her as Carole in the paragraph below.  Besides that snafu, it’s a cool article about some cool people that help make downtown better every day!  Back to article~

These jobs, and the people they attract, shower cash on Broadway’s busy bars and dining establishments. Both Burgum and his ex-wife, Carole, have been driving forces in this restoration. Carole led the effort to convert the once seedy Donaldson into a stylish downtown hotspot, featuring the work of local artists on the walls and bison on the menu. “People thought I should be put in a padded cell for doing this,” she says. Of course, entrepreneurs like the Burgums will continue to face big challenges to lure customers and workers—cold weather, isolation, and competition from more urban places. But for the first time in generations, parts of the Great Plains have a chance to be great again.
Kotkin is a Distinguished Presidential Fellow in urban futures at Chapman University and an adjunct fellow with the Legatum Institute in London. He is author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.