August 2021 Light Reading Newsletter

Light Reading. Your news from Flathead Electric Cooperative

Download August 2021 Light Reading (PDF)


Outage preparation is always a good idea

Power outages continue making headlines across the nation, and we have received questions from several of you on the likelihood of similar issues impacting our area. Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) always wants to help answer member questions, but we also want to highlight the importance of our members being prepared in case of power outages.

Several factors have led to some of the major regional power outages you’ve heard about over the past few months (in areas of California and Texas, for example). Some of these have been more traditional in nature (a direct result of a power failure or equipment damage caused by storms or fires), and some of which have been intentionally initiated by utilities to mitigate concerns related to public safety or power supply shortages during times of peak energy use.

Weather is always a risk factor; however, summer storms – with their combination of hot, dry, and windy weather – magnify the risk of wildfires and the danger posed by damaged electrical equipment. Some utilities proactively turn off power during extreme weather conditions as a means of fire prevention which, in the utility industry, are referred to as Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). We are not strangers to weather-related power outages in the Co-op’s service territory. However, if our wholesale supplier, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), experienced such extraordinary circumstances that they felt the need to issue a PSPS, (which they say would be an action of last resort), the likelihood of it impacting members of FEC is expected to be low.

Road Closed - Outage
FEC Crews work to restore power after a microburst destroyed 3 power poles in Lakeside on July 9, 2021.

Some newsworthy outages in the region recently have been due to load-shedding measures (shutting down power to save and/or redistribute supply). This can lead to rolling blackouts for customers of these utilities.

Power supply is always top of mind for FEC and our power supplier, and we take measures to help our members use less power, especially during peak load times. We do have some advantages over other areas in terms of power supply. We are fortunate to get our baseload generation from BPA’s hydropower system. Hydropower is carbon-free, affordable, and reliable. It’s also much more constant than other renewables such as wind and solar power, which by their variable nature cause challenges for power supply planning. We are working tirelessly with industry partners to protect our hydropower as critical baseload generation in our region as other renewable energy sources are added to our power supply.

While public-power — and power-supply-related shutoffs — have not been a reality in our service area to date, there are many “ifs” going into the future. Our philosophy at the Co-op is to plan for the worst but hope for (and work toward) the best. With that in mind, our crews are ready to respond to power outages 24/7, and we hope you are too.

As hard as we work to keep power reliable, weather and other factors leading to power outages are a reality in Northwest Montana. Having a back-up plan in place should also be a reality for those of us who live here. While FEC understands the sense of urgency experienced during an outage, it’s not always feasible for crews to respond immediately to every area impacted, so it’s important to us that our members are always prepared in case of an unexpected and prolonged outage situation. Best case scenario, you’ll never need to use your backup plan.

For important information on power outage and emergency preparation:

Flathead Electric Outage Center Ready for Wildfire


Ten important questions to consider in your personal outage preparation:

  1. Do you know how to communicate with your Cooperative in case of a power outage?
  2. Do you need a back-up power source?
  3.  Do you have extra water? (Or an alternate way to power your water pump if you have a well?)
  4. Do you have flashlights and batteries?
  5. Do you have a plan to keep food from spoiling during summer outages?
  6. Do you have provisions for the needs of your animals?
  7. Do you have problem trees near FEC power lines that need removed? (Call us. We’ll take care of them!)
  8. Do you have alternative provisions if you rely on electricity for medical purposes?
  9. Do you have a car charger or backup power supply for your mobile devices?
  10. Does your vehicle have a full tank of gas (or is your EV fully charged)?


Electric vehicle test drives available at Co-op’s annual EV Day

Save your gas for the grill EV Day Test drive an Electric Vehicle

Electric vehicle (EV) owners, supporters, and all interested members are invited to attend a Flathead Electric Cooperative event on Thursday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Trade Center of the Flathead County Fairgrounds. In recognition of National Drive Electric Week, the event will highlight the benefits, cost-savings and fun provided by electric cars.

Grab a burger off the grill while you learn more about the Co-op’s exploration into the future of electric vehicles and charging facilities in our community. Bring your EVs and join other EV owners and experts onsite who will show their cars and answer any questions you may have. On display will be several EV’s including Tesla models. Admission is free and FEC, along with local dealers, will be offering free test drives as well!

Flathead Electric is gathering data from electric vehicles and charging stations to analyze the costs, benefits, and impacts of these fast-growing technologies on their system, in order to better prepare for the future. For more information about the EV Day event, call (406) 751-1834.


Super Saver Kits

Last chance to claim your free Super Saver Energy Efficiency Kit!

You have until August 31 to claim your kit. Valued at over $80, these free kits contain a combination of materials designed to save energy and money. Claim your free Super Saver Kit online or by calling 406-751-4483. Due to supply chain issues, kits are expected to take several weeks to arrive. Please only submit one request. Thank you for your patience!


Today’s Member Program

One FEC member and their guest will win an all-expense paid trip to the Today’s Member Program, hosted by the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association Oct. 5 – 6 in Great Falls. The program will feature presentations about the history and future of electric cooperatives, along with some fun and fellowship with other co-op members from around Montana. Call 406-751-4471 by September 6 to enter the drawing.


Submit your photo by August 31

August 2021 Calendar Photo
“Mount Baldy Lookout in the Yaak” by Dee Teske as featured in our 2021 Member Photo Calendar

Our members are so talented. Thank you, Dee Teske, for submitting this beautiful photo which is featured in our 2021 Member Photo Calendar.

Do you have a stunning, local photo you’d like to share? You have until August 31 to submit it for our annual Member Photo Calendar contest. If you’re a member of Flathead Electric Cooperative (which you probably are if you’re reading this) and a non-professional photographer, here’s your chance to have your photo published! All 14 contest winners will also receive a check for $25.


Please give blood on Sept. 8 or 9th!

Flathead Electric Cooperatives Pulse Project - Saving lives and providing local energy assistance


Blood donors get great perks!

Did you know that giving blood burns as many as 650 calories? Other perks of giving blood during the Pulse Project are:

  • A free, delicious meal courtesy of the Uphill Grill Food Truck.
  • A commemorative pin (our gift to blood donors).
  • A $25 Amazon gift card (if you’ve never given blood before).
  • The good vibes of knowing that not only have you helped potentially save lives, you’ve also assisted in raising funds for local families facing a temporary financial crisis.

So many great reasons to give! Please sign up to give blood at our upcoming Pulse Project.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you


Meet Andy Masa – Distribution Design Supervisor

Q. What do you bring to your Co-op? 

A. I believe being a distribution designer is the best job that anyone could have, and I’ve been blessed with a 20-year career doing it. 

Q. What’s the best thing about working for Flathead Electric?  

A. Every person that I get to work with from members, contractors, and peers is on the same team trying to find a solution to a problem. Sometimes we start at different places, but it is very satisfying to me to end with a solution that works for everyone.

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

A. I love the sport of basketball, and my dream would be to play like Michael Jordan and go for 50 points in a championship game.


Roundup Report

Grant to help meet patient transportation needs 

Bariatric wheelchair
Bariatric wheelchair

An $800 Roundup for Safety grant to ASSIST will be used to purchase a new wheelchair for their van that will provide safer transportation for individuals with bariatric needs. In their application, ASSIST (a nonprofit organization that connects people with healthcare services), said there are those who are missing vital medical appointments because—apart from an ambulance—their transportation options are extremely limited. They say the larger wheelchair will help these individuals receive the medical attention they need. 

July Projects Funded

  • Flathead Soccer Club
    Two AEDs  $2,400
  • Three Rivers EMS
    Scoop stretchers & vacuum splints $3,500
  • Climate Smart Glacier County
    HEPA air cleaners $2,500
  • Conrad Mansion
    Two Frigidaire window AC units $2,085
  • Greater Valley Health Center
    EKG machine $4,479

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.