October 2018 LightREADING Newsletter

Download: October 2018 LR Web (PDF)


October is National Co-op Month

What is a Cooperative?

A cooperative is a not-for-profit business owned and governed by its members. This way of doing business distinguishes electric cooperatives from investor-owned and municipal electric utilities. The business operates for the benefit of its members, rather than investors.

Historically, people formed cooperatives for electricity and other services, trusting the co-op business model to help them find solutions.

Who regulates FEC?

Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) enjoys local control and is not regulated by the Public Service Commission like some other utilities. A nine-member Board of Trustees, elected by Cooperative members to represent each of nine service districts, governs your Co-op.

Mission Statement

As a member-owned cooperative, we strive to provide competitive and reliable service, achieve the highest level of member satisfaction, and enhance the quality of life in our communities.

Flathead Electric’s 156 employees (who are members themselves) care about our members who work, recreate, and participate in our communities. Whether we are helping you with a new service, restoring power after an outage, teaching your children electrical safety in school, trying to save you money by making your home or business more energy efficient, or even assisting you in setting up a bill payment plan that fits your budget, employees adhere to the Co-op mission.

You’re invited to join us! 

Cooperative Impact Week Event

Oct. 25 • 6-8pm • FVCC Arts & Technology  Building

In celebration of National Co-op Month, the Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC), along with local partners Flathead Valley Community College and Montana West Economic Development, are presenting an evening of dialogue focused on the cooperative business model. Showcased will be local Co-ops such as Flathead Electric Cooperative, Cenex Harvest States, Park Side and Whitefish Credit Unions, as well as the Bigfork Farmer’s Market. The state’s first brewing and housing cooperatives will also be introduced! Cooperatives are on the rise in Montana and elsewhere, due to the positive business model and benefits. It is MCDC’s role to help develop and sustain other business cooperatives across the state, of which there are roughly 100 in Montana and thousands nationwide.

Cooperative Principles

Voluntary Membership Icon

Voluntary & Open Membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.

Economic Participation IconMembers’ Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. One of the many benefits of being a member (owner) of Flathead Electric Co-op is that any profits or margins, above and beyond operating expenses, are allocated back to the members in the form of Capital Credits. When the financial condition of the Cooperative permits, these Capital Credits are retired and paid out to the members.

Autonomy and Independence IconAutonomy & Independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control as well as their unique identity.

Education IconEducation, Training & Information

Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together. FEC partners with the Montana Electric Co-op Association and the National Rural Electric Co-op Association, among others.

Community IconConcern for Community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities. Helping to make our community safer through the Roundup for Safety Program, providing scholarships for area students, hosting regular blood drives, and donating to local food banks and other charitable organizations are just a few of the ways Flathead Electric demonstrates its concern for community members and their well-being.

Democratic Member Control IconDemocratic Member Control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

Sign up to take action! Flathead Electric has a Grassroots Action Team made up of members who help us contact the legislators making decisions about critical issues impacting your Co-op and, often, electric cooperatives in our state, region and nation. We invite you to join our Grassroots Action Team to stay up to date on legislative issues impacting your utility and electric rates, and have an opportunity to help keep utility rates affordable and protect our power supply in the Northwest.


Are you receiving Rural Montana Magazine?

Rural Montana MagazineDuring the past several months, many Rural Montana Magazines have been returned to FEC from the post office. Most of the returns are from members who use e-bill or Flex Pay, so it’s possible we don’t have their updated mailing address. If you are not receiving your Rural Montana Magazine, please contact us at 406-751-4483 to let us know your current address. Also, if you are receiving the magazine and wish to discontinue, contact us about that as well and we will take you off the mailing list. In the meantime, we hope you are enjoying Flathead Electric’s monthly newsletter LightREADING online, via email, or as a bill insert in the mail as one of our key means of communication with our members.


Win a Trip to the Cat/Griz Game!

Cat Griz Giveaway

The Cat/Griz Football game is November 17. Would you like to go? Interestingly enough, your electric water heater could get you there!

If you sign up for the Peak Time Rebate Program during the month of October, you will automatically be entered to win. The package Includes:

  • 2 tickets to the Cat/Griz game
  • 1 night’s hotel stay
  • $100 spending money

Additionally, everyone who participates in the Peak Time Rebate Program gets a $48 per year credit on their electric bill! How’s that for a win-win situation?

The Peak Time Rebate Program offers participating members a $4 per month credit on their electric bill. We install a free unit on your electric water heater and, during peak periods of energy use, we turn your water heater off for a short period of time (which participants typically never even notice). Sign up today!


Pulse Project: One for the record books!

Pulse Project StickerWe did it! We, meaning you and the rest of our member friends, succeeded in hosting the largest Red Cross Blood Drive in Montana history! Our Pulse Project event (held September 13-14 at the Co-op’s Kalispell headquarters) brought in 139 pints to help meet the emergency need for blood here and across the country. You also helped us raise over $13,000 towards an assistance fund to aid members who are experiencing a temporary financial crisis and struggling to pay their electric bill. To those of you who made these essential contributions, please accept our heartfelt gratitude, and know that you were part of something very special.

Energy Share needs your contribution

Energy Share of Montana provides bill assistance to families facing an unexpected financial emergency. Additionally, the program runs a refrigerator replacement program for eligible seniors and disabled people who own their homes. Energy Share is funded mostly through private and corporate donations with some state funding. Make a tax-deductible contribution by calling call FEC at 406-751-4483 or visit the Energy Share of Montana website.

Are you having difficulty paying heating bills?

Qualifying members can receive assistance with a portion of their home heating costs though the LIEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) administered by Community Action Partnership (CAP) of NW Montana. For information, call CAP at 406-758-5433 in Kalispell, or 406-293-2712 in Libby.


Your Co-op Connection of the Month

Get to know the people working for you.

Adam SteeleAdam Steele
Energy Services Representative                                                                                                           

What do you bring to your Co-op? 

A sense of understanding. I started at the Co-op over 11 years ago as a groundman in the operations department. I worked side-by-side with our right-of-way crew trimming trees around power lines.  This department also allowed me to work with our lineman installing new, and maintaining existing, lines through the summer heat and winter storms. Five years later, I transitioned into the engineering department as a staking technician, designing new infrastructure and figuring out ways to fix parts of our aging system. As a current energy services representative, I aim to bring the knowledge gained through the other departments into play in my new role.

What’s the best thing about working for Flathead Electric?

I love having the ability to talk to our members regarding questions about what the Co-op can offer them, and ways that they can save money on their electric bills.  As the father of six children, I can relate to the needs of families trying to stretch their dollar as far as possible. (Yes, I also walk around behind my kids turning off lights!)

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

If I had a superpower, it would be the gift of wisdom. It would be great to know the answers for the ever present questions we all have in our lives. I can only imagine the amount of positive change that gift could bring to everyone’s circumstances.



Roundup Report: Roundup for Safety grant to benefit Columbia Falls Swim Team

2018 CFST Team PhotoThe Columbia Falls Swim Team will purchase a large canopy or “team tent” with a $2,000 grant from Roundup for Safety. The tent will not only provide protection from sun exposure and heatstroke, but also will offer a space for families to gather. Team President Jenni Cheff says that over 70 swimmers, ages 4-17, comprised the team this year and that they take their team tents to all weekend meets.

“The team tents provide a safe area for swimmers to assemble away from traffic and to rest between races. It also allows family members of all generations to safely encourage and watch the swimmers,” Cheff says, adding: “Team tents are crucial protection from the sun and Montana’s inclement weather during our weekly two-day swim meets around Western Montana. Swim meets continue rain or shine, cold or hot, unless lightning delays occur. We think the Roundup for Safety grant also supports bettering kids’ swimming skills, which is important in our area with so many waterways.”

September Projects Funded

  • Colter Pass, Cooke City & Silver Gate Community Council
    Solar radar speed signs – $5,000
  • Kidsports
    Perimeter chain link fence – $10,000
  • The Summit Medical Fitness Center
    Impact tests for concussion assessment – $5,760
  • The Conrad Mansion Museum
    Fire control safety system – $5,000
  • Whitefish Community Center
    AED cabinet – $1,000
  • Cabinet Peaks Rehabilitative Services
    Medical grade treadmill – $2,500

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.