March 2019 LightREADING Newsletter

Your News from Flathead Electric Co-op Inc.

Download: March 2019 Light Reading (PDF)


Peak Demand

What is it, and why is it important?

In last month’s LightReading we informed you that beginning in June, Flathead Electric Cooperative will change the structure of their rates to include a small monthly demand charge for residential accounts. The charge will be based on the maximum demand measured at each residential meter during the Co-op’s peak demand times. So, what is peak demand? Consider this example:

It’s 6 p.m., and you just walked into your home after work. You turn up the thermostat on your electric furnace; then you turn on the oven, the dryer, the TV, and the dishwasher. What have you done to your electrical demand at that point in time? Let’s take a look…

How Your Demand is Measured
If you used your furnace (10 kW), oven (4 kW), dryer (4.5 kW), dishwasher (2.5 kW) and water heater (4.5 kW) simultaneously, your total demand would be 25.5 kW. Your peak demand is determined by the maximum electrical load (kW) you require during the Co-op’s peak hours, when our energy costs are higher.

Furnaces vary, but can easily require a 10 kW demand alone. The oven is another 4 kW, the dryer is 4.5 kW, the dishwasher is 2.5 kW (and it causes the water heater to kick on, which is another 4.5 kW). Just like that, you’re requiring 25.5 kW to run all those appliances simultaneously. And, that is before factoring in the demand from things that run consistently like your refrigerator, freezer, VCR, etc.

Now imagine this demand required at 6 p.m. being multiplied by nearly every home in our area. Just like a highway has to be wide enough to accommodate rush hour traffic, our electrical system has to be sized to withstand the highest potential peak energy requirement without failing. Your Co-op has invested millions of dollars to ensure we have the infrastructure needed to handle all of the peak energy that our members “demand.” In addition, our wholesale power provider, the Bonneville Power Administration, assesses a hefty charge based on our overall single highest system peak for each month. Therefore, it makes sense that Flathead Electric needs to recover more costs during those same periods of time (and less during off-peak times).

So, when are the peak times?

Flathead Electric’s peak hours (when our member’s peak demands will be measured) occur from 7 to 10 a.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. (So, the good news is that the vast majority of the time there is no demand charge.) This means you can reduce your peak demand by shifting the load to the off-peak hours – do the laundry midday, later in the evening, or on the weekends, for example. Just as the member who uses a small amount of electricity in a month is billed less, those with a lower peak demand will be billed less as well.

As a member-owned electric Cooperative, our goals are really quite simple: to provide reliable low-cost power, to provide exceptional member service, and to treat all members fairly. You’ll continue to hear 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, you can read more about the demand charge here.


Co-op’s converge at the state capitol

Co-op’s converge at the state capitol
Left, Ross Oveson of Sun River Electric Cooperative and right, Ross Holter of Flathead Electric Cooperative, Inc. present Governor Steve Bullock, middle, with a note pad that displays important Montana Electric Co-op facts and information.

Each session of the Montana Legislature, members of the Montana Electric Cooperative Association (MECA), including Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC), congregate in Helena for “Co-op Day at the Rotunda.” The tradition is to provide sack lunches for legislators, while also providing them with information on central issues facing electric co-ops around the state. Collectively, these co-ops serve more than 400,000 Montanans.

Working together is a key part of the cooperative way, so FEC also encourages members to join our Grassroots Action Team. Grassroots is a movement of non-profit utility customers who support the goal of making sure power is affordable and available, and that our members’ interests are protected in the legislative process.


Energy Assistance is Available

Low Income Energy AssistanceWhen times are tough and you find it difficult to pay heating bills, help is available. Community Action Partnership of NW Montana administers the LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program). If you qualify, they can assist by paying a portion of home heating costs. For information call (406) 758-5433 or 1-800-344-5979. Applications are available through Flathead Electric and are due by April 30.

While we’re talking about energy assistance, we’d like to express our appreciation for everyone who participated in our Pulse Project last year, because it has been a blessing for so many of our members. Through the Pulse Project, we not only collected life-saving blood donations, but also life-changing monetary donations for members facing a temporary financial crisis. That crisis arose for several of our members when their employer—the federal government—was shut down for a time. Thank you again, and we look forward to our second annual Pulse Project event in the fall!


Free duct sealing for mobile homes

Free-Duct-Sealing-for-Mobile-HomesIf you have a single-wide mobile home, you may be able to get free duct sealing.

To qualify, you must:

  • be a member of Flathead Electric Co-op, and
  • have an all electric forced air furnace.

For more information, call (406) 751-1875.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you.

Kim SoutherKim Souther

Roundup for Safety Board Director, District 2 (Lower Valley)

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

A. As a board, we are presented with requests from people who represent organizations they are passionate about. The board is made up of a group of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience. Being able to listen objectively in the discussions related to the decision making is an attribute I possess.

Q. What’s the best thing about serving as a Roundup for Safety Director?

A. I enjoy seeing the good that comes from the Co-op members who graciously contribute to the program by rounding up their bill each month.

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

A. I would like the ability to retain in my memory the names of all the people and organizations which Roundup for Safety (through Co-op members) has been able to provide support to.


Roundup Report

Grant will help light the way in Woodland Park

Ice Rink in Woodland ParkA $2,000 Roundup for Safety grant will help provide exterior lighting at the Woodland Ice Skating Center. Christy Eisinger applied for the grant on behalf of the Flathead Valley Hockey Association. She says the entrance of the Center is very poorly lit.

“This is a safety concern due to the winter snow and ice and the parents and kids who walk in the dark area at night. We have approximately 120 kids in our program and 30 coaches who use the rink daily. We also rent the rink to many groups, so this lighting will be provide a much safer environment for all concerned.”

February Projects Funded

  • Lincoln County Community Health
    Opiate medication lock boxes $500
  • Bigfork High School
    Rope climbing gear replacement $2,800
  • Columbia Falls Baseball
    Bleachers $5,000
  • South Kalispell Volunteer Fire Dept.
    Rope rescue equipment $5,000
  • Glacier Lacrosse Club
    Helmets $500
  • Flathead County Agency on Aging
    Home repairs for the elderly $5,000
  • ImagineIF Library Foundation
    ADA electric door opener for C. Falls $1,500
  • Habitat for Humanity Flathead Valley
    Hard hats and ladders  $1,800

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.