November 2020 Light Reading Newsletter

Your Co-op’s Response to COVID-19: 

Keeping our members and employees safe and healthy is our top priority. 

For the most up to date information about how your Co-op is responding, visit us online or call us at 406-751-4483. 

Download November 2020 Light Reading (PDF)


Teamwork leads to successful extraction of a dangerous tree

Following months of logistical planning, a large hazardous tree was removed from a treacherous area above Highway 37 in Libby.

Flathead Electric Co-op’s Right of Way Supervisor, Amanda Opp, says they discovered the tree during regular trim trimming operations. They knew that if the dead tree — standing at over eighty feet tall — fell onto power lines in the area, it could have caused a prolonged outage.

Hazard Tree in Libby
James Gabriel, Foreman of Associated Arborists, setting ropes in the tree.

“It was in very difficult terrain, leaning and losing debris. Had it fallen and caused an outage, it would take time to restore due to the limited access we had to bring in poles and re-string wire.”

But Opp added there was more to the challenge of removing this tree than just the location.

Amanda Opp
Amanda Opp, Right-of-Way Supervisor, Flathead Electric Co-op

“We were sensitive to the fact that there was an osprey nest in the tree, so we coordinated with the Forest Service, along with the US Biological Station, who confirmed that there were no nesting osprey in the tree and that there were suitable options in the area for any osprey that return in the spring.”

The project’s success required a group effort. Besides the Co-op’s tree trimming crew and help from Associated Arborists, the Libby Line Crew (led by Journeyman Lineman Foreman Challis Crismore) was also on site with equipment in case a piece of the tree or shale from the cliff fell to the highway below. Flaggers from Glacier Traffic Control were also involved. Opp says she is proud of the successful operation and grateful for the teamwork.

“We call these hazard trees because they represent several potential dangers including line strikes, outages, and wildfires.”

“The timing of the tree removal (on the first day of fall) was significant because we wanted to wait as long as possible to ensure that the birds were done nesting, but before the first snow, which would make the area inaccessible. The removal was very beneficial to public safety because the likelihood of this tree falling or debris falling and striking the line was high. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as we know from the wildfires in California.”

Each year, FEC trims an average of 160 (of our total 5,000) miles of line, which includes the removal of thousands of dangerous and hazardous trees.  Five full-time crews and a forester assist in these efforts.


Pulse Project 2020

Pulse Project 2020
Flathead Electric Co-op employees (in green) pose with Sandy Carlson (Center) of the Red Cross at our 2020 Pulse Project Blood Drive.

Flathead Electric Co-op experienced another successful Pulse Project event this year, bringing in 94 pints of life-saving blood for our local blood service providers (American Red Cross and Vitalant), and collecting $25,000 in life-saving energy assistance. Since the inception of the Pulse Project in 2018, we have collected a total of 360 pints of blood (possibly saving up to 1,080 lives), introduced dozens of first time donors to ensure the continuity of a blood supply, and raised $56,000 in energy assistance funds for members experiencing a temporary financial crisis and struggling to pay their electric bills. To those of you who made these essential contributions, please accept the Co-op’s heartfelt gratitude and know that you were part of something very special. Your generous gifts will truly keep on giving.


Capital Credits

When you signed up to receive electric service from Flathead Electric Cooperative, you became a member-owner of the Co-op. While investor-owned utilities return a portion of any profits back to their investors, the benefit of being a Co-op member is that electric cooperatives allocate excess revenue to members as “capital credits,” and retire–or pay–them when the Co-op’s financial condition permits.

This year, the FEC Board of Trustees has elected to retire a percentage of the capital credits that were allocated to member accounts in 2007 and 2008. In December, over 35,000 checks in excess of $2.5 million will be mailed to our members.

Capital Credits

Were you an FEC member in 2007/2008?
If so, you’ll receive a capital credit retirement check.

Were you an FEC member in 2019?
If so, you’ll receive an allocation notice.

Were you an FEC member in both 2007/2008 and 2019?
If so, you’ll receive a capital credit retirement check and an allocation notice (in one combined statement).

If you were not a member in 2007, 2008 or 2019, you will not receive a check or an allocation notice this year.


2021 Member Photo Calendars Available Now

Calendar Distribution Box

Each year, Flathead Electric Cooperative holds an amateur photo contest among our members to produce a calendar. Showcasing the beauty of Northwest Montana, the calendar has received several communications awards through the years and has become a favorite display piece in many local homes and businesses. We’d like to thank the members who submitted photos this year and congratulate the winners. We invite our members to pick up a copy of the calendar at the Kalispell and Libby offices. Since offices are currently closed to the public, calendars will be available in newspaper display boxes outside the front door of each office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Supply is limited, so we ask that members take only one copy each.



Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you

Ross Holter

Meet Ross Holter – Director of Energy & Member Services

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

A. Over 20 years of experience from the energy efficiency/member service perspective. I also try to lighten things up a bit. When things get tense, a little humor can go a long way!

Q. What’s the best thing about working at Flathead Electric?

A. The separation resulting from COVID-19 has really driven home how much I enjoy my co-workers. We have a topnotch staff that is fun to work with, and I really miss the day-to-day social interactions.

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

A. Flying is usually the most sought after, followed by teleportation, super strength, and invisibility. But I think I would like to be able to heal. That would be awesome!


Roundup Report

Roundup grant to improve fire safety and security for students

A $5,000 grant to Psalm 91 Inc. will provide crash bar safety doors for the organization’s Heritage Academy facility in Kalispell.  The crash bar doors will not only provide fire safety but also additional security for the students and teaching staff, as well as others who attend community events and fundraisers that are held at the facility year-round.

October Projects Funded

Saint John Lutheran Church
AED $1,200

Kootenai Valley Christian School
Thermometers and hand sanitizer  $720

Elrod Elementary School
Surveillance cameras $1,465

West Shore Community Library
Alarm system  $1,500

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.

Heritage Academy
The Heritage Academy in Kalispell

Heritage Academy