April 2019 LightREADING Newsletter

Your News from Flathead Electric Co-op, Inc

Download: April 2019 Light Reading (PDF)



New Residential Demand Charge

At their February meeting, the Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) Board of Trustees approved a new residential rate structure which includes a new residential demand charge. This change will impact all residential bills issued after June 1, 2019. Here are the answers to some of our members’ most frequently asked questions.

Q. Is this a way for the Cooperative to ​collect more money?

A. No. In fact, at the same February meeting, the Board approved a 0% rate increase for all rate classes for the coming year. As a not-for-profit Co-op, FEC’s goal is to collect costs most equitably from members.

Residential Rate Structure
Think of the total amount of FEC’s residential rates collected as a pie. Since there is a 0% overall rate increase, the pie isn’t getting any larger; the slices within the pie are just changing shape.

This rate structure change is revenue neutral – meaning the Co-op isn’t collecting any more money, we’re just slightly changing the way we collect it from members to ensure that the people who have a higher demand on the system are billed for that demand, and those with a lower demand pay less.

Q. Why is the Co-op making this change?

A. Over the years, the way FEC is charged by our wholesale power provider, the Bonneville Power Administration, has changed. Your Co-op now pays a premium for power used during peak hours. This new charge collects those costs more accurately and more fairly from each of FEC’s residential members.

Q. How will my demand charge be calculated?

A. The residential demand charge will be $0.26 per kilowatt (kW) of the highest hourly demand measured during your monthly bill cycle. Respectively, the amount you are billed for each kilowatt hour (kWh) you consume (FEC’s traditional energy charge) will be decreasing by 1.2% for block 1, 1.9% for block 2 and 3.1% for block 3.

When are the Peak Hours?

Your demand will only be measured during peak hours (when it costs FEC more to purchase power). Those peak hours occur Monday though Friday from 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. There are no demand charges on weekends or major holidays.

The highest demand you require in any one-hour time period of those peak hours during your monthly billing cycle will determine your charge. For example, our average residential member who has a monthly usage of 1,100 kWh and a demand of 5.79 kW will see a $1.51 demand charge, (5.79kW x $0.26/kW =$1.51) and a reduction of $1.23 in their energy charge, resulting in a $0.28 change to their total bill. 

Q. So, could my bill actually go down?

A. If you’re putting a lower electrical demand on the system, yes, because it costs FEC less to serve you, thus you should pay less than those with a higher demand. With the addition of the demand charge and a comparable reduction of the energy charge, about one-third of FEC members will see their bills decrease slightly since it costs the Co-op less to serve them power. Likewise, members who have a higher demand could see a small increase in their bill.

Old Bill vs New Bill

The reality is that most of FEC’s members won’t see a noticeable change in their total bill amount, just a change in how that amount is calculated.

Q. What can I do to control my demand and lower my bill?

A. That’s another benefit of including a demand charge – it gives you one more opportunity to control your bill. Before, using less energy was the only way to reduce your bill. Now, shifting your energy usage to off-peak hours, and/or avoiding using large appliances at the same time will reduce your demand, and also decrease your bill.

How can I save money?
Using your oven, washer, dryer dishwasher and water heater all at the same time will incur a high electrical demand during the peak hours of 5-8pm. Instead, spread out usage, or shift it to off­-peak times when you can.

We hope that, over time, this new rate structure will help our members use energy more wisely. The reality is, when we all use less energy during peak hours, we all save money.


Unclaimed capital credit dollars will help develop school resource officer programs

School Resource Officer
Getty Images

Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) intends to reinvest members’ unclaimed capital credit dollars back into the community as seed money to develop School Resource Officer (SRO) programs in areas of Flathead County and Libby that aren’t currently served by an SRO.

Capital credit checks are issued to current and former members of FEC each year. Despite the Co-op’s best efforts to find members, some of those checks go unclaimed. Once checks remain unclaimed for five or more years, Montana law requires FEC, as a member-owned, not-for-profit Cooperative, to either use that money for educational purposes or allocate it to the state’s general fund.

FEC General Manager Mark Johnson says this investment will have a positive and lasting impact on both our community as a whole and on our Cooperative.

“Not only do school resource officers provide for safe learning environments, but they also provide valuable resources to our teachers and school staff. Additionally, they are able to develop strategies to resolve problems affecting youth and protecting all students, so they can reach their fullest potentials.”



We appreciate our linemen!

Super lineman

April 8 is nationally recognized as “Lineworker Appreciation Day.” At Flathead Electric, we are deeply grateful for the work of our 35 linemen and servicemen, whose jobs are often performed during less than ideal conditions. Noting 2018 statistics, we thank our Co-op crews for:

  • Logging 376,661 miles in their trucks;

Responding to:

  • 23 vehicle vs electrical equipment accidents;
  • 170 tree related outages;
  • 294 animal related outages; and
  • 41 weather related outages.

Co-op crews are also called, at all hours of the day and night, to house fires and other incidents where electricity is concerned. They responded to over 1,000 unplanned power events last year alone. To-date, our lineworkers have worked approximately 800 days straight with no lost time due to accidents. Talk about Super Heroes!


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you.

Kelly Spooner, GIS Supervisor

Q. What do you bring to your Co-op?

A. Experience. I have worked at FEC for 25 years in several different positions. I started in Mapping when we were going from paper maps to AutoCAD drawings. I’ve had a couple of other positions, but now I am back in Mapping, aka the GIS Department. The progress from when I first started in Mapping to where it is now is exciting – especially knowing that I played a small part in it.

Q. What’s the best thing about working here?

A. I enjoy helping fellow employees, and working as the GIS Supervisor allows me to do that on a daily basis.

Q. If you had a super-power, what would it be?

A. The power to replace other people’s pain with peace, love and hope.


Roundup Report

Roundup for Safety Grant will help seniors stay in their homes


A $5,000 grant from Roundup for Safety will help senior citizens living in mobile homes make repairs they may not otherwise be able to make for themselves. Jim Atkinson applied for the grant through the Agency on Aging.

“Many seniors have rotted-out, unsafe floors, porches, and stairways. They also may experience tagged furnaces, leaking water heaters, and other problems that make their homes unsafe to live in,” he says. “Our objective is to make repairs necessary to keep them in their homes in a safe and sanitary environment.”

March Projects Funded

  • Libby Police Department
    Body camera equipment $5,000
  • City of Whitefish
    2 AED’s  $1,000
  • Friends of Flathead Avalanche Center
    Ridgeline weather station  $5,000
  • Flathead Area Mountain Bikers Inc.
    Communication device and first aid kits $900
  • Kalispell Regional Medical Center
    Youth bike helmets $7,095

Roundup for Safety is a voluntary program for FEC members who round up their electric bills to the next dollar. This money goes into a fund for community safety projects.

To apply for a Roundup for Safety grant, visit Roundup for Safety. Thank you to the thousands of Flathead Electric members who round up their bill for safety! Together, we are making a difference in our community.