February 2020 LightREADING Newsletter

Light Reading

Download: February 2020 Light Reading (PDF)


20/20 Vision

Dear Members of Flathead Electric Cooperative,

I look forward to seeing you all at your Annual Meeting on March 21st. The meeting theme this year is 20/20 Vision. In that light, we will take a look back at the past year as well as forward to the vision for your Co-op’s future.

Hindsight is 20/20, and we can look back on a very productive and positive year at your Co-op. Some highlights include enjoying the success of our Pulse Project event, which saw the collection of 127 pints of blood and $16,500 in energy assistance funds for members in need; announcing that unclaimed capital credits provided seed money for additional School Resource Officers in Flathead County; and introducing the “EV Experience” where members can take one of FEC’s electric vehicles for a free spin.

We are also anxious to share our vision—upcoming opportunities and challenges alike—for the future of Flathead Electric Cooperative.

With our core objective of providing electricity, we are working with other co-ops to establish EV charging stations throughout our Northwest Montana highway corridors. It’s a great opportunity to utilize funding available through the national Volkswagen settlement.

This industry is fraught with challenges as well, however, and our members deserve to know what those challenges are. First and foremost are the threats to hydropower, which not only is our primary source of energy, but also is carbon-free, affordable and reliable. Despite the fact that nearly a billion dollars have been spent by western Montana BPA customers to support fish and wildlife programs, there are outside forces intent on removing dams in our region at all costs. We need your help as we work with competing interests to find some common ground.

As your Cooperative contemplates future power supply, we must also consider the very real possibility that, at some point, power supply in our region may become inadequate. As existing electric generation continues to be shut down, there is concern in our industry whether there will be enough energy to reliably serve our members. Prolonged power outages in some areas of the country would be inconvenient, but in our service territory they would be downright dangerous.

As Flathead Electric prepares to accept the challenges that await, our focus will remain on you, the members, as it always has. We are all on this journey together, and I am genuinely interested in your feedback and involvement.

Mark-Johnson_webThank you for this opportunity to serve,

Mark Johnson,
General Manager


Save the Date!

Annual Meeting
Canvas Church
Zino and the Bel Aires

Annual Members’ Meeting

WHEN: Saturday, March 21st

WHERE: Canvas Church, 255 Summit Ridge, Kalispell

Join us early for food and fun, or come for just the meeting:

8:30 am Registration and breakfast

9:00 am Entertainment by Zino & the Bel Aires

9:45 am BUSINESS MEETING (learn about the issues impacting your Cooperative)

11:30 am Meeting Adjourns


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


Four $500 in-state tuition scholarships will be awarded to area high school seniors who attend and whose parents/guardians are FEC members.


3 seats are up for election:

  • District 6 (West Valley, Marion)
  • District 8 (Bigfork)
  • District 9 (Libby)

Check the map to see exact district boundaries. For more information on becoming a candidate or to obtain a nominating petition, call 751-4444.


EV Experience

Ever wondered what it’s like to drive an electric vehicle?

We aren’t in the car business, but we are in the business of providing education and awareness to our members about the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry, which has significant impacts on electric utilities. That’s why we leased a Nissan Leaf for our members to try. Here are a few comments we’ve received from members who took it for a spin:

Thanks again FEC for this great member benefit opportunity.”

Had a ball driving the EV the past several days.”

The car was very responsive, quiet and comfortable.”

The best part was driving around without having to get gas.”

I quite enjoyed the Leaf and am definitely thinking my next car will be electric.”

To borrow the Leaf, FEC Members can sign up online, or call Teri at (406) 751-1834.

FEC's Nissan Leaf
FEC’s Nissan Leaf
Electric Vehicle Experience
First member to test drive the Leaf



UDIG one-call center has changed

All one-call requests for underground utilities locates in Flathead and Lincoln counties are now being handled by Montana811.org.

Call 811 before you dig.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you.

John Hanson

John Hanson – Field Operations Supervisor

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

A. I knew back in high school that I wanted to be a lineman. After all these years I think I bring loyalty, dedication, experience and a positive outlook.

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

A. The great people I work with and the location. This is exactly where I want to be.

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

A. Working in this industry can be dangerous, so I would make sure no one got hurt or injured. But, alas, I have no super power, so we just need to work as safely as possible and try to learn from our mistakes so similar ones can be avoided in the future.


Roundup Report

RFS grant to benefit backcountry volunteers

John Peine with a radio in the backcountry
Backcountry Rescue
Rick Mathies being helped to ALERT helicopter

A $1,600 Roundup for Safety (RFS) grant will fund radios for Northwest Montana Back Country Horsemen (NMBCH), who provide trail and other maintenance in the National Forests. President Rick Mathies says previously funded radios have been put to good use.

“I was bucked off a horse and injured. We were able to call a crew with the ALERT helicopter to fly me out.” Mathies says they applied for additional radios because their workload has increased, meaning there are more volunteers in the backcountry.

January Projects Funded

  • Senior Citizens of Lincoln County, Inc.
    Protective Barricades/bollards $3,000

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.