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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. 

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

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

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