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Your opinion: Forum is wrong on 20/20

The editorial writers at The Forum are chanting the Chamber of Commerce mantra regarding the Fargo 20/20 initiative (editorial, Oct. 25).

The editorial writers at The Forum are chanting the Chamber of Commerce mantra regarding the Fargo 20/20 initiative (editorial, Oct. 25). What's out of sync, however, is not the Home Rule Charter Amendment, but rather, the song and dance being put forth by those opposing this grassroots effort.

The Forum claims the amendment would turn Fargo into an energy island - true only if West Fargo (home to DMI Industries, a North American renewable energy player) fails to adopt a similar amendment within the next 14 years or if state legislators continue failing to grasp the economic development significance of renewables. In short, a lot of positive things can happen, renewable energy-wise, between now and 2020, but nothing will happen without unhitching our wagon from the horse that is the status quo.

Also, The Forum implies that a statewide initiative, such as that passed in Colorado in 2004, would have been the way to go. Don't the editorial writers follow the work of their colleague Janell Cole, capitol correspondent? Review the renewable energy records of achievement resulting from the 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005 North Dakota legislative sessions. Two words come to my mind: myopic and dismal. I stand a better chance of winning the lottery than seeing a ballot measure such as the Fargo 20/20 initiative pass statewide.

Voting yes on the Fargo 20/20 initiative will demonstrate support for statewide action, which will help spawn regional and national efforts on renewable energy policy. That's how democracy via grassroots mobilization works. When politicians lose touch, citizens have the constitutional right to petition and then express their will via the ballot box.

By the way, Xcel Energy opposed Colorado's statewide measure. Does any rate payer/voter in Fargo really believe Xcel would support a statewide initiative in North Dakota? Would Xcel support a regional initiative? Talk is cheap. On the other hand, it takes hard, cold cash to defeat an initiated measure - and Xcel spent plenty in Colorado: $520,000, according to SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy.

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It's interesting to note that a group calling itself Citizens for Sensible Energy Choices opposed the Colorado initiative. Now in North Dakota an opposition group is calling itself Citizens for Sensible Renewables.

Similarly, The Forum uses the Colorado measure to point out that the Fargo 20/20 initiative contains no cap on costs. Coincidentally, my Xcel bill arrived the day before The Forum published its negative editorial. My bill contains a "fuel clause adjustment" of $15.72 for 826 kilowatt hours, an amount equaling 1.9 cents per kilowatt hour. My February 2006 bill had a fuel clause adjustment of $11.18 for 683 kilowatts hours, an amount equaling 1.6 cents per kilowatt hour. There are no caps in place now!

If Xcel already can vary its fossil fuel charge on a monthly basis, why shouldn't rate payers - by way of their vote on the Fargo 20/20 initiative - request more renewables?

The most feasible renewable source for electricity generation currently is wind, and the fuel for wind is free. Furthermore, North Dakota has the nation's best wind resource.

Hulse, Fargo, is a member of the group sponsoring the Fargo 20/20 initiative. E-mail hulse@i29.net

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