Flathead Electric Cooperative History
When a group of neighbors banded together in 1937 to bring power to their homes and farms, they could never have anticipated the fruit that their efforts would bear.
In December 1938, the first 82 miles of Flathead Electric line were energized and 117 farm homes in the Kalispell area glowed with electricity for the first time. It was the beginning of a new era of convenience and progress, brought about by people working together toward a common goal.
Many things have changed since those first miles of line were energized, but the cooperative spirit of neighbor helping neighbor on which Flathead Electric was founded still guides our business today.
We’ve grown from those first 117 members to more than 50,000 members, from a tiny rural utility to a business that serves a variety of residential and commercial members. We now have 4,500 miles of overhead and underground power lines, and we serve the entire Flathead Valley and Libby, along with several hundred members along the Montana-Wyoming border.
Flathead Electric is now the second largest electric utility in Montana, ready for the challenges and changes of the 21st Century. But one thing hasn’t changed. We’re still neighbors; a local company owned by those we serve.
What is a Cooperative?
A cooperative is a business owned and governed by its members.
Providing electric service the cooperative way distinguishes electric cooperatives from investor-owned and municipal electric utilities. The business operates for the benefit of its members, rather than investors. Electric cooperative employees and board members are a part of the community the cooperative serves.
Historically, people formed cooperatives for electrical and telephone service, farming, banking, housing, childcare, health care, food retailing and other goods and services, trusting cooperatives to help them find solutions.
The nation has about 1,000 electric cooperatives, which serve 37 million people in 47 states, which is about 12% of the nation’s population.
7 Cooperative Principles
Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together.
Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities.
Who regulates FEC?
A nine member Board of Trustees, elected by cooperative members to represent each of nine service districts, governs Flathead Electric.