April 2022 Light Reading

Light Reading Your News from Flathead Electric Co-op

Download April 2022 Light Reading (PDF)


Energy Efficiency Pays Off for Lupton Family Business

Snappy’s Sports Senter upgrades 60 years of light fixtures

When the Lupton family built Snappy’s Sport Senter in 1961, they installed exterior and interior light fixtures, of course. 1989 and 1993 expansions brought even more lighting.  

In 2021, the Luptons learned about a Co-op lighting rebate program. They gazed at 60 years of various fixtures and bulbs and wondered if it was possible to modernize the mishmash. 

As it turned out, it was – and it was worth it! Snappy’s kicked off 2022 with almost entirely new LED lighting. The Luptons celebrated an almost 50% lower electric bill! And, thanks to rebates that offset upfront costs, the Lupton family estimates that the project will pay for itself within the next three years. 

All exterior lighting, save the signature neon sign, was upgraded. Previously, 500-watt mercury vapor bulbs illuminated the building. They used so much electricity that they were on timers to turn them off. Now, with LED bulbs, timers aren’t essential, though Snappy’s plans to continue them. 

Snappys Exterior
Snappy’s Sport Senter – a Kalispell landmark.

Almost every interior light was modernized, too. Some fixtures were replaced, while others were retrofitted for LED bulbs. Many fixtures that required 4 bulbs now need only 3 – and they’re still brighter! 

“At first, especially in the fishing department, it was so much brighter that it took us a little while to get used to it. It looks so much better than it did before,” third-generation owner-operator Jon Lupton noted.  

Lupton found out about the rebates from his friends at The Hardware Store, who also recently updated their interior lighting with help from the Co-op. Reflecting on the nature of community, Jon stated, “It made sense that we heard about the rebate program from a friend. After all, it’s been a two-way street of community support for us at Snappy’s since 1947. We’re so lucky to live in the Flathead.”

Third generation owner/operator Jon Lupton.
Lighting fixtures
LED fixtures like these ones required only two or three bulbs instead of four to put out the same (or more) lumens as the old fluorescent bulbs.
Interior of Snappys
Upgraded lighting illuminates merchandise on the showroom floor.
New lighting at Snappy’s Sport Senter is brighter and more efficient than the old bulbs.

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) sets your Co-op’s wholesale power rates, and those rates include energy efficiency dollars. This lighting rebate project is an example of how the Co-op uses those dollars. If the Co-op does not utilize them, they must be used in energy efficiency projects in other areas of the Northwest served by BPA. Offering residential and commercial energy efficiency rebates helps the Co-op be a good steward of members’ money. 

Learn more about rebates online, or call the Energy Services Department at 751-4485. Reach out before you start your project! 


Power Points

Snappy’s Sport Senter Energy Efficiency Savings Stats


tree near power line icon

Trees. We love our trees, and we know you do, too.

We’re often emotionally invested in them. That’s why we want you to plan before you plant, and to pick the right trees for the right places. It’s never a happy day, for tree owners or for your friendly Co-op employees, when a tree interfering with the safety of power lines must be severely pruned or even removed.  

Here are a few tips for happy tree ownership near power lines: 

  • Please call us before you plant trees under power lines. 
  • Please call us if you already have trees under lines. We can still help! 
  • Please know that tree maintenance along service lines – that’s the power line that comes directly to your house — is the responsibility of the property owner, not the Co-op. However, we’re happy to consult with you about best practices for that maintaining that service line, including temporarily disconnecting your power so that you can safely prune your trees. 

If you’d like to learn more about trees and power lines, your Co-op has plenty of resources available to you.


Electric lineworker in bucket truck works on power lines

Lineworker Appreciation Day, April 18

Lineworkers. They’re out there solving problems that we mostly never even hear about, whether they’re performing maintenance to prevent power outages, fixing the ones they can’t prevent, or responding to house fires, vehicle accidents and other incidents where electricity is a concern. Nationwide, over 119,000 electrical lineworkers keep the lights on. At your Co-op, 47 dedicated lineworkers labor in the wilds of Montana, no matter the time or weather, for your health and safety. We salute them! 


2021 Capital Credit Allocation – Check your April Bill

Did you purchase electricity from FEC in 2021? If so, you’ll notice that your bill this month includes a capital credit allocation statement. One of the benefits of being a member of a not-for-profit electric Co-op is that when the Co-op’s revenues exceed expenses, those margins are allocated back to our members as capital credits. Amounts allocated are determined by each member’s individual energy billed during 2021.

Capital credit allocation statements have traditionally been sent as a separate mailer; however, your Co-op decided to include them with your April bill instead, which saves our members significantly in printing and postage costs.

Your capital credits will be paid out to you at a later date, as the financial condition of the Cooperative allows. Capital credits are not returned the year they are earned so that they can be used to fund electric lines, bucket trucks, and other needed equipment. This reduces the Co-op’s need to borrow money, and in turn, helps keep rates low for members.


Whitefish Trails

Whitefish Trail a Safer Place for Recreation

Recreationists on the multi-use, non-motorized, 47-mile Whitefish Trail system requested $5,000 for Knox boxes to allow emergency vehicle access on locked roads. A regional Master Key, given only to approved groups, can open all the boxes in the area. This allows a first responder to open locked gates without having to search for a set of keys or waste valuable time cutting the lock. Multiple partners were involved in this request led by Whitefish Legacy Partners. 

March Projects Funded

  • Braveheart Protective vests $3,000
  • Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation Wilderness first aid training $2,450
  • KALICO Art Center First aid kit, grab bar, door paddle $460
  • Flathead Rivers Alliance Loaner life jacket project $5,000
  • Lighthouse Christian Home & Services Shower remodel $2,500
  • Logan Health Bike helmets – Spring Into Safety Day $7,965
RoundUp for Safety Flathead Electric Cooperative

ROUNDUP FOR SAFETY is a voluntary program for FEC members who round up their electric bills to the next dollar. This money is managed by an independent board and goes into a fund for community safety projects.