June 2017 LightREADING Newsletter

Download: June 2017 Light Reading (PDF)


Senate Bill 363 Assigns Unfair Burden to Co-op Members

Senate Bill 363 assigns unfair burden to Co-op members

Montana Senate Bill 363 revises laws related to providing revenue sources for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. This bill puts a large portion of the funding for this proposed new $12 million dollar effort onto Montana’s hydro-powered utilities.

The estimated impact on Flathead Electric Cooperative alone is $650,000 over the next two years – a cost that Flathead Electric had no opportunity to plan for in our budget, which our members will now have to absorb.

Flathead Electric has genuine concerns about the spread of aquatic invasive species. In fact, your Co-op has been voluntarily contributing to prevention efforts for the past two years. The spread of invasive species, however, is an issue that affects all Montanans, and this bill unfairly assigns a cost to only a subset of citizens (including Flathead Electric members). In addition, this bill attempts to delay or halt the spread of these species, which is an issue that Montana’s hydropower utilities do not impact.

As a Cooperative, Flathead Electric is owned and governed by its members, so our leadership team is always leery of legislation that disrupts our ability to govern ourselves. We are particularly concerned about the precedent this bill may set for the state to utilize utilities, especially hydro utilities like Flathead Electric, to fund other statewide issues in the future, as well as the risk that this bill may be extended longer than the scheduled two year sunset, as is currently outlined.

We recognize that this unfairly shifts a higher cost burden to our members, and the Cooperative’s Board and management strongly opposed the bill throughout the legislative process. We asked our legislators to take a step back and analyze the issue, especially regarding the funding mechanism, to come up with a fair and equitable solution for all Montanans.

As the 56th Legislative Session came to an end, the political pressure to take action on this important issue for our state prevailed over the opposition to its funding method; and, unfortunately, rural electric cooperatives with hydro-generation in their power supply portfolios came out on the losing end.


Take action on behalf of your Co-op!

Grassroots Action TeamOur Grassroots Action Team is a group of members who are interested in staying
informed and contacting legislators about issues that affect Flathead Electric Cooperative.

By joining, you’ll have a chance to:

  • stay up to date on issues affecting your utility and electric rates;
  • help keep rates affordable; and
  • help protect our power supply.

Joining is simple and confidential.

Join the Team

For more information, call 406-751-1820.


FEC Board renews code of conduct and elects officers

The FEC Board of Trustees has once again unanimously approved policies regarding trustee conduct and fiduciary responsibility. President Doug Grob says the policies revolve around mutual respect for their colleagues and accountability to the members.

“As trustees, we owe it to each other to engage in good faith, fair and legal dealings. We also owe members our integrity, our loyalty to their interests, and our assurance that we are thorough in researching issues that might impact the Co-op. We understand that we work for the people, and renewing these policies is a restatement of our pledge to them.”

At this same board meeting, Trustees elected officers for the coming one-year term. Doug Grob will serve as President, Duane Braaten will serve as Vice President, and Gary Boe will serve as Secretary/Treasurer.


Congratulations, scholarship winners!
Flathead Electric awards $77,000 to local students

Scholarship winners
Brandon Olsen, Natalie Krueger, Brynn McChesney, Rachel Maher, Libby Hill and Justin Gibson

Flathead Electric Cooperative is pleased to announce its 2017 Scholarship Program recipients, funded by the Co-op’s unclaimed capital credits (this money is dedicated to education).

We recognize these students for their dedication, and we hope this support helps them meet their educational goals.

A total of $77,000 has been awarded this year to students in our service territory.

Awardees include:
Karl Dirham (Non-traditional)
Tucker Duffy (GHS)
Erin Flores (Non-traditional)
Hannah Freeman (CFHS)
Justin Gibson (GHS)
Niklaus Gier (Libby HS)
Alexis Higareda (Libby HS)
Libby Hill (GHS)
Natalie Krueger (GHS)
Diedre Leslie (BFHS)
Phyllis Lucht (Non-traditional)
Rachel Maher (GHS)
Hanna Maxwell (FHS)
Brynn McChesney (GHS)
Stephanie Milner (Non-traditional)
Nathan Moon (FHS)
Alex Naglich (FHS)
Brandon Olsen (GHS)
Julia Saunders (BFHS)
Sophia Skwarchuk (FHS) – (Basin Electric Cooperative Scholarship)
Eric Smith (Homeschool)
Braydan Thom (Libby HS)
Teigen Tremper (WFHS)
Logan Thurston (FHS) – (Montana Electric Cooperative Scholarship)
Sage Wanner (CFHS)
Zander Wold (WFHS)
Alexi Yarde (Non-traditional)

The Board of Trustees extends its best wishes to these exceptional kids stating, “one of the qualities all of these scholarship winners have in common is their commitments to the community and their focus on helping others. We are proud to be a part of their future and wish them tremendous success as they move forward to the next chapter in their lives.”



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

Stacey SchnebelStacey Schnebel
Trustee, District 1 (Columbia Falls to Essex)

What do you bring to your Co-op?
I am honored to work with the dedicated staff of Flathead Electric, and I’m proud to say our Co-op is a leader in the non-for-profit energy industry. As an active and involved member of District 1, I bring an intimate knowledge of, and passion for the communities of Columbia Falls and the Gateway to Glacier. In the board room, I contribute a generational perspective that comes with raising a young family and running two small businesses in the Flathead.

What’s the best thing about serving as a trustee?
The thing I love about serving as a Trustee is the challenge to keep up with an energy industry that is swiftly evolving, and the responsibility of advocating for the clean hydro power we enjoy in the Flathead on local, regional and national levels.

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
I’d really like to do that thing where you wiggle your nose and your house is magically clean… or, I’d just like to be able to stay awake long enough to see the northern lights again someday!



Roundup Report: Kalispell Police are safer than they used to be

A $3,408 grant from Roundup for Safety will help the Kalispell Police Department purchase flame resistant uniforms for its officers. Police Chief Roger Nasset says his department is very grateful for being a recipient.

“Our jobs as law enforcement officers can be hazardous at times, and we know that if we are to the point of relying on our SWAT Team, then things have escalated to the next level. The grant from members of Flathead Electric allows us to purchase specialized uniforms that are specifically designed for tactical applications and are flame resistant. The public’s safety is our number one concern and having proper equipment to help ensure that safety is very much appreciated. Thank you Roundup for Safety!”

Nasset is a big fan of Roundup. He says a stabbing victim would have died if it hadn’t been for a policeman’s use of a tourniquet. Officers now carry them since receiving a safety grant in 2014.

May 2017 Projects Funded

  • Whitefish School District
    Trauma Kits $1,000
  • Bethlehem Lutheran Church
    Defibrillators $2,000
  • The Nurturing Center
    Egress Doors and Windows $6,500
  • Community United Methodist Church
    Defibrillator $917