Fargo: Your Green City
Over the past several years, the City of Fargo has taken great strides in reducing energy use. From simple projects such as switching the type of bulbs used in traffic lights to complex processes such as capturing methane gas to create energy, the City is reducing its carbon footprint and saving money.
The Department of Solid Waste uses a wind generator and solar panels to convert natural elements into electricity, and another generator turns methane gas from decomposing garbage into electricity. The City uses some of this electricity to operate buildings at the landfill. It sells excess electricity to area utility companies.
The City of Fargo Wastewater Treatment Plant treats about 12 million gallons of wastewater every day. In the past, wastewater, which met EPA clean water standards, was discharged into the Red River. In 2008, Fargo began supplying the Tharaldson Ethanol Plant in Casselton with up to 2 million gallons of that wastewater each day to operate its corn-based ethanol facility. The facility uses a membrane treatment plant to further treat the water before use. Each year, this partnership brings in a net profit for the City of $800,000 and eliminates the need for withdrawing water from natural river or groundwater sources for use by the ethanol plant.
Since 2002, Fargo's traffic engineering department has been working to transition from incandescent traffic lights to LED. To date, all 5,400 traffic lights have been replaced with LEDs and 85% of the City's 2,400 pedestrian traffic lights have been replaced. This change has now reduced the City's annual electricity budget to run the lights by $30,000. LED lights also last much longer than typical incandescent bulbs, meaning fewer runs out to an intersection with a maintenance vehicle, thus, saving fuel at the same time.
The team at MATBUS knows that not only is fuel expensive, it can have a negative impact on the environment. To reduce their carbon footprint MATBUS has implemented the following practices:
- Fuel use: To reduce its carbon footprint, MATBUS uses 20% blended biodiesel fuel during summer months and 2% blended biodiesel fuel during the winter.
- Power generator: The MATBUS Transit Garage has a power generator available to use during times of peak energy use to save on costs and reduce pressure on power grids.
- Water reclamation: Water in the MATBUS wash bay is funneled into a tank where it is stored, cleaned and re-used. This helps save energy and water.
- Hybrid buses: MATBUS currently owns 8 hybrid buses. These vehicles are powered by electricity and fuel which, in turn, reduces emissions.