December 2019 Light READING Newsletter

Download: December 2019 Light Reading (PDF)


What are Capital Credits?

When you signed up to receive electric service, you became a member-owner of Flathead Electric Cooperative.

Your Cooperative is a not-for-profit. We do not exist to make money for shareholders – we exist only to provide low-cost, reliable electricity to our members.

One benefit of being a member of a not-for-profit co-op is that excess revenue is returned to you as capital credits. How does that work?

1. Money comes in from members when they pay their electric bills.

Electric bills can be thought of as each member’s fair share of the funds needed for their cooperative to run.

2.  Money goes out to pay Co-op expenses.

Members’ dollars are pooled together and used as operating capital so that the Co-op can provide reliable service and pay Co-op expenses.

3. A little bit is set aside for the future.

Capital credit funds are retained for a period of time for long-term improvements and maintenance of the Co-op equipment, to ensure reliable service.

4. Any funds leftover are returned to members at a later date.

Capital credits are allocated to members based on their energy purchases. When the financial condition of the Co-op allows, capital credits are retired (paid) to each member in the form of a check, which typically arrives during the holiday season.

Capital Credit FAQs

Will I get a check this year?

This year, the Board of Trustees elected to retire $2.8 million in capital credits, which is a percentage of the capital credits that were allocated to members for 2007. If you purchased electricity from Flathead Electric Co-op in 2007, you will receive a check this year.

Why aren’t capital credits paid right away?

Retaining capital credits actually helps keep your rates lower because the Cooperative doesn’t need to borrow as much to finance electrical infrastructure needs.

Can I have my capital credits automatically applied to my electric bill?

No. It’s important to the Board of Trustees to be transparent in this process, so capital credits are returned directly to the members-owners in the form of a check.


Flathead Electric trustee wins MECA award


One of the Montana Electric Co-op Association’s (MECA) top awards, the Hog-Tied Award, this year went to Stacey Schnebel, a Flathead Electric Co-op (FEC) trustee and member of the MECA board. The Hog-Tied Award is presented to a cooperative director or employee who has exemplified exceptional courage, skill or determination in dealing with individuals on public-policy issues of importance to our electric cooperatives. As a trustee for FEC and MECA, as well as a sitting member of the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission, Stacey’s work was instrumental in changing the way Montana funds its fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS). The 2017 Legislature had revised laws providing revenue sources for preventing the spread of AIS, which put a large portion of the funding burden onto Montana’s electric cooperatives that purchase hydropower. MECA says that due in part to Stacey’s efforts,  the 2019 Legislature ultimately found a funding mechanism more equitable for all concerned.


Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Cold Weather Season

Cold Weather

Frigid temperatures graced us with an early presence this year. Lower temperatures typically mean higher energy bills because we use more energy to power things like heaters. Your Co-op is here to make sure you’re well prepared to weather the season.

Top 5 ways to prepare for cold weather season: (1) Beware of cold weather energy hogs (like space heaters), (2) avoid seasonal highs and lows with budget billing, (3) take advantage of winter energy saving tips, (4) be prepared in case of an outage, and (5) get assistance if you need it!


Scholarships Available through FEC Partners


Current high school seniors and college undergraduates are eligible to apply for the following scholarship opportunities available through FEC associates:

  • Basin Electric Power Cooperative – $1,000
  • Montana Electric Cooperatives Association (MECA) – $500

Applicants or their parent/guardian must be a member of Flathead Electric Co-op. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2020. One combined online application will allow students to be considered for both scholarships.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you

Wendy Ostrom-Price – Public Relations Officer

Q. What do you bring to your Co-op?

A. A strong history of community involvement. Before joining the Co-op, I was a journalist for 20 years, which provided the opportunity for me to connect with literally hundreds of people and organizations.

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

A. Engaging with the kind and generous people in this community. The fact that I get to work with some of the warmest, funniest, and most intelligent people on the planet is icing on my cake as well. Someone makes me smile every single day.

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

A. The power to clone myself, so I could be in two different places at one time.


Roundup Report

Roundup for Safety grant to provide student safety app

School Resource Officer Dennis Bain
School Resource Officer Dennis Bain

A $1,450 Roundup for Safety  grant will fund a smartphone app that Kalispell students can download for free and use for making anonymous reports to authorities. They can report anything from bullying and suicide threats to drug use and other crimes. The app allows for two-way communication, but students remain completely anonymous. School Resource Officer Dennis Bain says that based on his own research, students are more likely to use this system of reporting due to the anonymity.

November Projects Funded

Somers Company Town Project
Security fencing $2,400

Somers School District
First Aid Kits  $4,000

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.