December 2021 Light Reading

Light Reading Your News from Flathead Electric Co-op

Download December 2021 Light Reading (PDF)

CONTENTS

Evergreen Sidewalk Project

$25K Grant from Unclaimed Capital Credit Dollars

Flathead Electric Cooperative’s (FEC) Board of Trustees has awarded a $25,000 Community Education Grant to Evergreen Community Partners to help fund the sidewalk project in Evergreen.

Phase I includes building a sidewalk from Hwy 2 East between Hwy 35 and Evergreen Drive on both sides of the highway and north to Meadowlark Drive on the west side of the highway. FEC’s gift will serve as the seed money for the fundraising effort for Phase II of the project which will extend the sidewalk from the west side of Hwy 2 onto West Evergreen Drive.

Evergreen Community Partners Board President Darla Harmon says both phases are critical for the safety of the Evergreen students.

Large check presented to a group of people
Flathead Electric Cooperative Communications & Marketing Supervisor Katie Pfennigs (front, right) presents check to Evergreen Community Partners Board Members (back row) Charles Lapp, BJ Lupton, TJ Wendt, (front row) Sarah Stahlberg, Darla Harmon, and Daren Engellant.

“In addition to Highway 2, West Evergreen is also an extremely dangerous road for the kids who must navigate the very narrow road on their way to and from school, sharing the road with fast-moving vehicles,” says Harmon.

FEC’s Community Education Grants are funded by unclaimed capital credit dollars which, per Montana law, can either be used for educational purposes in FEC’s service territory or must be allocated to the state’s general fund.

“We do our best to return capital credits to our members, but when we can’t find them, our objective shifts to reinvesting those dollars back into the communities we serve in the most meaningful and impactful way we can,” says FEC General Manager Mark Johnson.

Johnson says the Evergreen sidewalk project was a natural fit for these funds because they will help students get to and from school safely. Evergreen School District does not qualify for bus funding, so all students rely on walking, biking, or private transportation to get to and from school. As a business located in the area, he added that many FEC employees have witnessed close calls for kids on their way to and from school.

“These dollars originally came from members of Flathead Electric Co-op, and our Trustees are passionate about reinvesting them back into our community to enhance and expand educational opportunities for our members and their children,” he added. “We are eager to be part of this important project.”

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What are capital credits?

When capital credits go unclaimed they become funding for educational grants — like safe sidewalks! But what are capital credits, and how do they work?

How do capital credits work?


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


Money goes out to pay Co-op expenses.


Excess funds are used as capital by the Co-op for a time and then returned (paid) to members at a later date.


Despite our best efforts, some funds never get claimed by the members. 

This is why it’s important to keep us updated with your address — even if you move outside of FEC’s service territory!


After five years, state law allows unclaimed capital credits to fund education-related projects (like safer sidewalks).

Wondering if you have unclaimed capital credit funds? Use our Unclaimed Capital Credits Lookup tool to find out!

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ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) logo

FEC one of the highest-rated utilities in the nation in member satisfaction  

We are humbled and excited to report that, as part of our 2021 Annual Member Satisfaction Survey, Flathead Electric Co-op (FEC) received a customer satisfaction score of 90 out of a maximum score of 100 from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). This was one of the highest scores in the nation among utilities, better than all investor-owned utility scores to date publicly measured by the ACSI, and 17 points higher than the cooperative energy utility industry score of 73.   

While Co-op staff was pleased to hear that overall satisfaction is high, it won’t slow our ongoing efforts to continue making improvements to better meet our members’ needs. The Co-op has already started responding to members who brought up questions or concerns and is working on improvements. (For example, we’re developing educational materials to help members understand the residential demand charge so they can use electricity more wisely to reduce their bills.) 

FEC received a record number of responses to our annual survey with over 6,400 of the Co-op’s 55,000 members responding, which General Manager Mark Johnson says is what makes the results so meaningful.  

“The fact that so many of the local families and businesses we serve were willing to provide feedback – good or bad – is what excites me most,” said Johnson. “As a not-for-profit Co-op owned by the members we serve, we take your feedback seriously and will continue to make improvements based on this feedback.”

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2022 Calendars

Member Photo Calendars are available for pick-up

Due to supply chain issues, our 2022 photo calendars were delayed. But they are here now! You can pick up a copy of the 2022 calendar at our Kalispell and Libby offices.

It’s easy to get a calendar this year!

We will have calendars available in the white distribution boxes outside of the office lobbies, as well as inside the lobbies and next to the drive-through windows.

For more information on calendar availability, give us a call at 406-751-4483. They are here until we run out!

Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you

Brian-Lockhart_2732

Meet Brian Lockhart Journeyman Substation Wireman

Q. What do you bring to your Co-op? 

A. I am blessed to work here as a journeyman substation wireman. My many years of diagnosing and repairing heavy equipment helped prepare me for a career in the power department at FEC.

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

A. The opportunity to work with such a great crew. It is truly a pleasure to go to work each day when you love your job.

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

A. Super speed. The ability to accomplish all tasks at work and home in a fraction of the time would be amazing. 

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RoundUp Report

Safer School Playgrounds

Wood chips being spread onto playground

Students and young visitors at Trinity Lutheran school are enjoying a safer playground thanks to a $450 Roundup for Safety grant. The funds were used to improve the fall zones around playground equipment by adding woodchips for cushioning. In addition to being grateful for the safety upgrades, Trinity Lutheran School Principal Laura White said “our students were thrilled to see this giant dump truck roll up to the school!”

November Projects Funded

  • David Thompson Search and Rescue
    Helmets and goggles $2,500
  • Flathead Valley Hockey Association
    Helmets  $1,000
  • Friends of the Flathead Snowmobile Association
    Avalanche safety training  $9,420
  • Flathead County Sheriff’s Office Foundation
    SWAT Team medical gear  $10,000

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.

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