July 2017 LightREADING Newsletter

Download: July 2017 LightREADING (PDF)


Lower Valley Processing achieves higher energy efficiency

Lower Valley Processing

When Chuck and Sylvia Plummer first launched Lower Valley Processing in 1974, they were operating out of a three-car garage. 43 years later, the Kalispell plant is considered one of the premier processing businesses in Northwest Montana. And while the charming look and feel of the farmland (and the family who runs it) may take you back in time, the business boasts very forward-thinking technologies. One of those advancements is a new highly efficient 50’ x 30’ x 10’ freezer.

Bookkeeper Pam Champion says she learned about the new technologies from Flathead Electric Key Accounts Representative Don Newton when he was presenting at a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) workshop sponsored by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce.

“Making these upgrades has been a great experience, and we are grateful for all the support we’ve received from the Co-op and the Chamber,” said Champion.

Lower Valley Processing freezerChuck’s grandson, Jeremy Plummer, is now a partner in the business, along with his folks Wes and Sue and long-time employee Jason Mahlen. Plummer says they used to operate out of four different freezers, which were not only inefficient with regards to energy, but also expensive to maintain.

“We’ve actually increased our space, and we’re still saving money each month,” says Plummer. “The new freezer is also safer and more operator friendly for employees, as well as being more stable in terms of temperature.”

Lower Valley Processing also received an incentive check from FEC for $30,239 to offset the costs of the project (made possible through a Bonneville Power Administration sponsored energy efficiency program).

Plummer says that as the processing plant continues to grow, he just really appreciates the fact they can “do a lot more with a lot less.”

Lower Valley Processing’s Efficiency Success StatsFridge Icon

Replacing 4 small, inefficient freezers with 1 large, highly efficient freezer resulted in

  • 120,956 kWH annual energy savings
  • $5,625 annual energy saving (in dollars)
  • $30,239 incentive check received

Learn more about commercial efficiency projects through Flathead Electric Cooperative.


FEC requires clear zone for safety

Fence clear zoneFEC policy requires a minimum of 10 feet in front of any underground enclosure to allow a safe working distance for our employees. As you can see from this photo, however, this may not be common knowledge. FEC’s Safety Department is asking our members to please help us spread the word on this important policy to contractors and homeowners planning to build a fence or other structure near the Co-op’s electrical equipment. If we know in advance, accommodations can often be made to ensure future safety, as well as successful projects and satisfied members.


Ribeye Raffle to support local area food banks

Ribeye Raffle FundraiserHere’s your chance to fill your freezer with premium local 4H/FFA beef! The winner of our second annual Ribeye Raffle will take home approximately 60 1″-thick premium Ribeye and T-bone steaks (valued at over $500). Tickets are available at Flathead Electric Co-op offices in advance or at the FEC booth during the Norhwest MT Fair in August. All proceeds will benefit Flathead Valley food banks.


Megaphone2018 member calendar – call for submissions

Flathead Electric Cooperative is accepting photo submissions for our Annual Members’ Calendar. The calendar will be printed and available for members in November. Photos submitted should depict wildlife, scenery, people, activities or anything that represents our unique lifestyle and special corner of Northwest Montana. 13 photos will be selected and featured in next year’s calendar.

To enter, you must be a member of the Co-op and an amateur photographer. Members selected to be featured in the calendar will receive $25, and their name will be published in the calendar.

Photos must be submitted by August 31.

Submit your photo


Peak Time Rebate Program update:
1,700 participants… are you one of them?

Water heater iconOver 1,700 Co-op members with electric water heaters are now receiving a $48 per year credit for participating in our Peak Time Rebate Program.

These members are also helping reduce their Co-op’s overall demand on the electric system, which is good for everyone!

The best part? It’s free and simple to sign up, and you don’t have to do a thing once you’re enrolled.

Call 406-751-1834 for more information or sign up online.

Start Saving $48/year


Your Co-op Connection of the Month
Get to know the people working for you

Hodik_KevinKevin Hodik
Accounting Supervisor

What do you bring to your Co-op?
I bring a great respect for the Cooperative business model and more specifically, Rural Electric Cooperatives. I grew up on a farm in Central Montana where my family have been members of Fergus Electric Cooperative since it was first energized in the late 1930’s. Working for the member-owners and not investors or shareholders is something I take great pride in. I hold a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Montana and am currently obtaining my MBA. Prior to joining the Cooperative, I served as CFO for a nonprofit Community Health Center.

What’s the best thing about working at FEC?
The ability to give back. Flathead Electric is very supportive of employees being active in the community. I currently sit on a local nonprofit board of directors and also volunteer for many Cooperative sponsored activities. I also feel the Cooperative does extremely well in delivering reliable energy at low rates and is always on the leading edge of energy innovation. I’m very proud to say I work for the members of Flathead Electric Cooperative.

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
My wife and I spent two years living in Hawaii following college. It would be very nice to “teleport” back to the beach for a day during a long Montana winter. Also, there are times when I wish I could simply make time stop, whether it be just watching my kids play or viewing a clear Montana sunset.


Roundup Report: Nurturing Center

Nurturing CenterA $6,500 grant from Roundup for Safety will help the Nurturing Center replace the doors and windows at their Safe Havens facility in Kalispell. Director Kalie Hansen Adoretti says they are very grateful for the award.

“Currently most of the windows at Safe Havens do not open, and this grant will increase the safety and security for the children and their families who participate in our services. We hope that a crisis, such as a fire, never occurs at Safe Havens, but should one occur I am confident that these upgrades that Roundup for Safety is providing will help prevent any possibility of injury. This grant is a wonderful example of our community members supporting local non-profits in delivering services to the community.”

The Nurturing Center provides supportive, respectful services that strengthen families, increasing the number of children raised in healthy nurturing environments.

June 2017 Projects Funded

  • Flathead 4-H Foundation
    ADA Handicap Ramp  $6,000
  • Habitat for Humanity
    Scoffolding, Gloves, Glasses  $2,200
  • Project Homeless Connect
    Medical Vouchers  $3,000
  • Bigfork Youth Baseball
    Netting and Helmets  $4,100
  • Abbie Shelter
    Deck Safety Code Repairs  $5,790
  • Whitefish Christian Academy
    Fencing  $3,200
  • Flathead Valley Hockey Association
    Concrete Subflooring  $7,000