February 2019 LightREADING Newsletter

Light Reading - your news from Flathead Electric Co-op Inc.

Download: February 2019 Light Reading (PDF)


A new residential rate design is coming

Mark Johnson, FEC General Manager

“In essence, the new rate structure more closely mirrors the way we are billed by the Bonneville Power Administration, allowing us to more equitably charge members for their specific impact on this electrical system we all share.”

Mark Johnson | FEC General Manager

New technologies are changing the way residential utility customers consume energy. In response, many utilities across the country are changing the way they charge for residential power to include a component called “demand.” Flathead Electric Co-op plans to incorporate a demand charge into its residential rates this summer, and here’s why…

As the use of the electrical system increases, providing and maintaining the infrastructure needed to serve the largest possible load on our system at any given time has become a more significant cost factor. Consequently, the way our wholesale power supplier charges us has changed. Flathead Electric Co-op pays more for power during periods of time when our energy consumption is the highest (we call those periods of “peak demand”).

Due to this cost shift, our old rate structure is at risk of unfairly burdening some members with costs they aren’t putting on the system. The Board of Trustees and staff at your Co-op have put considerable research into a new rate design that more fairly collects each member’s share of the total cost and also gives members more control over their power bill.

Starting this summer, you’ll see the structure of your power bill change to include a new component called a “demand charge.” Demand measures the maximum amount of power you require each billing period during Flathead Electric’s peak demand times, when our costs are higher. This will allow us to treat our residential members more fairly by collecting less from members who put a lower demand on the system during peak periods (and more from those with a higher demand).

This new rate design also gives members more control over their electric bill, offering opportunities to save money by shifting energy use away from the Co-op’s peak hours. In addition, encouraging all members to control their demand on our system can reduce the Co-op’s overall system costs, in-turn, reducing all of our bills.

As your not-for-profit electric Cooperative, we will continue to do everything we can to manage costs and provide the same reliable service at the lowest possible cost. You’ll be hearing much more about the demand charge, how this rate change will impact your bill, and ways you can control your demand in upcoming issues of LightREADING.

In the meantime, we invite you to visit our Residential Demand Charge webpage for more information. Stay tuned!


You’re Invited!

Get PLUGGED IN at FEC’s Annual Meeting

Zino and the Bel Aires
Zino and the Bel Aires

WHAT: Annual Members’ Meeting

WHEN: Saturday, March 16th

WHERE: Canvas Church, 255 Summit Ridge, Kalispell


  • 8:30 am Registration and breakfast
  • 9:00 am Entertainment by “Zino & the Bel Aires”
  • 10am – noon  Business Meeting (Learn about the issues impacting your Cooperative)

PRIZES: Door prize drawings, including the grand prize $500 energy bill credit!

SCHOLARSHIPS: 4 – $500 in-state tuition scholarships will be awarded to area high school seniors who attend and whose parents are FEC members.

Board of Trustees seats up for election:

  • District 1 (Columbia Falls to Essex)
  • District 4 (Helena Flats, Columbia Falls Stage)
  • District 7 (Kalispell, South of Highway 2)

A district map showing exact boundaries is available here. For more information on becoming a candidate or to obtain a nominating petition, call 751-4444.


Teenage tragedy raises awareness on cell phone use

Cell Phones BathtubAs she often did, a 14-year-old New Mexico girl ran a bath to unwind before bed. She took her phone into the bathroom and was careful to keep it dry as it charged, laying its power cords on a towel. The teenager snapped a photo of her setup and sent it to a friend with the message: “When you use an extension cord, you can plug your phone in while you’re in the bath.” It was the last time anyone heard from her.

A police investigation shows that it appears the extension cord she plugged her phone into was frayed, and the girl was electrocuted after coming in contact with the extension cord. A spokesman said there was a burn mark on her hand (the hand that came in contact with the cord) adding that he hopes the tragedy raises awareness, especially among teenagers, about the dangers posed by the combination of water, electricity and portable electronics.

“The bathroom is a place for showers and personal time, and your phones don’t belong in there. Electricity and water do not mix. All it takes is a drop.”

Your Co-op reminds you to please practice safety around electricity!



FEC Scholarships

ScholarshipsFlathead Electric Co-op offers over $117,000 in scholarships each year. Individual scholarships range from $1,500 to $6,000. The applicant or their parent/legal guardian must be a member of Flathead Electric Cooperative, served by the Co-op at their primary residence. Scholarship money must be used to attend an accredited post-secondary education institution in Montana.

Scholarships are available for seniors graduating from accredited high schools in the Co-op’s service territory, graduating homeschool students, or current undergraduate college students. Applications are accepted online beginning each January, and are due by March 15.

Flathead Electric Cooperative’s scholarships are funded by unclaimed capital credits.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you

Teresa Miller

Teresa Miller

Member Services Supervisor

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

A. Almost 40 years of member service experience. I truly enjoy people. Great service means being able to help our members in an efficient, friendly manner. This is something we hope to achieve each and every day.

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

A. Being able to work within the community I grew up in and love.  At the Co-op we are a team that shares the same vision, and we work together to achieve our goals — but, we always keep our community in mind when making decisions.

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

A. I think I would enjoy having atmokinesis, which is the ability to control the weather.  How great would it be to create a rain storm to put out a wild fire, or provide sun on a rainy wedding day!


Roundup Report:

Athletes and visitors to benefit from grant

Roundup for Safety Grant
Fencing will prevent wayward balls from entering parking lots and causing safety hazards at the Columbia Falls High School soccer fields.

A $10,000 Roundup for Safety grant will help provide safety fencing at the Columbia Falls High School soccer fields. In his application, Athletic Director Troy Bowman said that a fence will mitigate hazards around the complex.

“Numerous balls are tracked down during games and practices and countless young children visit during summer camps and tournaments. Vehicles, including buses, are continuously moving through the parking lots creating a safety hazard for the public in attempting to retrieve balls that have been kicked out of play. A permanent fence will keep most, if not all, balls from leaving the complex and entering into the adjacent parking areas.”

January Projects Funded

Whitefish Community School
Safety Accessible Walkway $5,000

Flathead Podium Club
Pole Vault Pits $5,000

Flathead Valley Hockey Association
Exterior Lighting for Ice Skating Center $2,000

Hope Pregnancy Ministries
AED $500

Peterson Elementary School
Safety Identifying Vests  $486

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.