November 2017 LightREADING Newsletter

Download: November 2017 LR Web (PDF)


Co-op Hosts National Drive Electric Week Event

Electric vehicle (EV) owners and intrigued local residents attended a recent event at Flathead Electric Cooperative to highlight the benefits of electric vehicles, as part of National Drive Electric Week.

During the event, attendees learned about the Co-op’s Chargepoint EV Charging Station (the first of its kind in Montana), and our exploration into the future of these technologies and their potential impacts on the electric system. EV experts were on-site displaying their electric vehicles and answering questions. One of those experts is Wade Harris, a research analyst for Flathead Electric, who owns a Chevy Volt. Harris sat down with staff for Q & A:

Q. What went into your decision to purchase an EV?

A.I have a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that runs on electricity for the first 40 miles, then switches to gasoline for the next 260 miles of range. My main impetus was saving money and reducing pollution.

Q. What has surprised you about your EV?

A. How fun it is to drive. The power is there from the moment you turn it on. I also wondered if the battery would wear out, but have learned that these cars can go 300,000+ miles without problems. And instead of having to stop at a gas station, I just plug my car in at night, and it’s fueled by morning.

Q. What’s the economic impact for you?

A. A 300% increase in efficiency. I commute from Bigfork each day, and I save about $4,000 per year in fuel and maintenance costs compared to the small SUV I owned before. EV’s get the equivalent of 100-130 mpg. I have no oil changes, no transmission to repair, and brake pads that never wear out.

Q. What is the driving experience like?

A. It handles like an expensive sports car. You also don’t have the constant vibrations like in a gas powered car. Quiet driving means you don’t have to turn up the radio so high or raise your voice to have a conversation.

Q. What are the additional benefits?

A. EV’s are some of the safest cars on the road. Because most of their batteries are big and mounted low, some EV’s are almost impossible to roll. And, while they still need snow tires, the low center of gravity allows for safer driving in winter conditions.

Q. What’s compelling the evolution of EV’s?

A. Good old American innovation. As more batteries are produced and used, economies of scale drive costs down. EV’s have one-tenth the number of moving parts, so they’re more like a computer than a gas powered car. Word of mouth is also powerful. The same thing happened when America switched from horse and buggy to automobiles. When something is better, progress happens quickly.

Q. How do you envision the future of EV’s?

A. Charging infrastructure will be key. Eventually there will be plenty of quick charge stations, but generally charging will be done at home. Workplace charging or stations at other locations where cars may be parked for several hours at a time will also play an important role. For truck and other big rig enthusiasts, those types of electric vehicles are in the works as we speak!


Co-op members to receive checks in the mail

One of the many benefits of being a member-owner of Flathead Electric Cooperative is that after the Co-op’s expenses are paid, any excess margins are allocated back to the members in the form of capital credits. Those annual allocations are added to each member’s capital credit account. As financial conditions allow, Flathead Electric retires those capital credits in the form of checks to current and former members.

In December, the Co-op will issue over 36,000 checks in excess of $2.4 million to members. These checks are a percentage of the remaining capital credit balance in each member’s or former member’s account from 2006. Members of the Co-op will be mailed a capital credit retirement check and/or an allocation notice stating the amount of capital credits that will be added to their account and their capital credit balance.

Members will receive one of the following

  1. A capital credit retirement check if you were a member in 2006;
  2. An allocation notice if you were a member in 2016;
  3. A capital credit retirement check and an allocation notice if you were a member in 2006 and in 2016; or
  4. If you were not a member in 2006 or 2016, you will not receive a check or notice this year.


Congratulations, member photographers!
Member photo calendar earns top marks

Member Photo Calendar

Each year, Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) holds an amateur photo contest among our members for production of a calendar. The 2017 Member Perspectives Calendar received one of several communications awards FEC was honored with this year from state and regional utility associations.

“While FEC employees appreciate the recognition of their work, the award for the calendar is particularly special because our members helped us earn it by sharing their beautiful photography,” said FEC Communications and Marketing Specialist Mike Radel.

The judges commented: “Not only did this collaboration yield a wonderful product, but it was a creative way to engage people, share their talents and enjoy the beauty of your local area.”

Stop by Flathead Electric to pick up your copy of the 2018 Member Perspectives Calendar soon.


Peak Time Rebate Program hits milestone
2,000 participants and counting

Over 2,000 Co-op members with electric water heaters are now receiving a $48 per year credit for participating in our Peak Time Rebate Program.
“I‘m always looking for ways to use less energy and do my part to conserve resources – this program fits right in with that. My family has never noticed that we have the unit installed, but we certainly notice (and appreciate) the $4 credit on our bill each month!”
-Dorie Stephens, Peak Time Participant
Signing up is free and simple.
Call 406-751-1834 for more information, or sign up online at:

Peak Time Application


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

Terry Crooks
Trustee, District 9 (Libby)

What do you bring to your Co-op?

I bring community commitment. With over thirty-five years serving in the emergency management system, youth programs, community enhancement projects and civic organizations, I have given my life to working with others. I have been blessed with many opportunities to work with others for the good of the community, and am very passionate about the fact that we live in a blessed time and location on this planet.

What’s the best thing about serving as a trustee?

The best thing about serving as a trustee is being a part of Flathead Electric Co-op. The Co-op truly is a family committed to providing safe, dependable, affordable power to the members for the enhancement of their lives. Every day I work with the Co-op I am more impressed with the commitment of the management, employees and trustees. It is a humbling honor for me to work with such an operation.

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

If I had a gift of super powers I would like to look ahead into the future of the fast changing world of electrical power production and management. The world of electric power is a very complex mix of environmental, political and economic factors. New innovative technical advances are constantly emerging. Though promising, they present new challenges as they are implemented into the existing power equation. Blending the dreams for tomorrow with reasonable rates is a never ending challenge.


Roundup Report: Local youth helping alert senior citizens to potential fire danger

Steve Bicknell with Bailey LakeA $750 grant from Roundup for Safety will go toward the purchase of smoke detectors for area seniors in need. With the help of her parents, Kevin and Inga, 14-year-old Bailey Lake applied for the grant via the Kalispell Senior Citizen’s Center (KSCC), after learning she’d need to request funds through a local nonprofit organization.

Bailey, who is even donating part of the proceeds she made from the sale of her 4-H market lamb to the cause, says she is grateful for all the support.

“I’m very excited to have the chance to provide this small safety mechanism that potentially can make a very big impact. Thank you Flathead Electric and Co-op members for contributing to the Roundup for Safety program.”

October 2017 Projects Funded

  • Libby Volunteer Fire Department
    Respirator Fit Tester $5,000
  • Creston Elementary School
    Defibrillator $1,000
  • Northwest Montana Historical Society
    Lighting/Exit Signs and GFI Outlets $800
  • Kalispell Wrestling Association
    Wrestling Mat $3,000
  • Swan Mission Search & Rescue
    Avalanche Transceivers  $1,360

New Roundup for Safety Grant Application Process

All applications for Roundup for Safety funds should now be submitted online.