October 2020 Light Reading Newsletter

October_LR Header

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 October 2020 Light Reading (PDF)


The Deadly Truth about Downed Power Lines

Want to Survive? Assume it’s Live!

Electricity is so remarkably powerful that most of us can’t fathom being without it. It also, however, has the power to kill.

According to the American Burn Association, up to 1,000 deaths per year are reported as the result of electrical injuries to adults and children in the United States, with approximately 400 of those deaths being attributed to electrocution from contact with high-voltage power lines.

There are also at least 30,000 shock incidents per year, and approximately 5% of all burn unit admissions in the United States occur as a result of electrical injuries.

These statistics demonstrate the force of electricity, and this issue aims to highlight some of the more critical dangers in our environment.

400 deaths per year as a result of contact with high voltage power lines

Downed wires don't necessarily spark


Live power lines DO NOT NECESSARILY spark or give evidence of being energized

(even if they look completely dead, they might not be).

What should you do if you come across a downed line?

  • Never ever touch, drive over, or try to move a downed power line.
  • Stay as far away as possible — downed power lines can energize the ground up to 35 feet away.
  • Call FEC at 406-751-4483 to report it.
  • If it’s visibly sparking or causing a fire, call 911.


Downed Power Line

What should you do if you hit electrical equipment with your vehicle?

  1. Stay in your car.
  2. If you step out, your body (or anyone near) will become a conductor as the electricity tries to find its path to ground.
  3. Call 911.
  4. If your vehicle is on fire and you need to escape, keep both feet together and jump out of your car as far away as possible to avoid electrocution.

Downed Power Line on Car

What should you do if you see someone else hit electrical equipment?

  1. DO NOT APPROACH — you don’t have to make contact to get electrocuted.
  2. Call 911.
Call 911

About the Professionals

Electrical linemen are highly skilled professionals who deal with these dangers on a daily basis.

Below are some statistics about Linemen.

Bucket Truck - 4 years

Jouneyman Linemen

On-the-job training
= 8,000 hours (4 years)
(both fieldwork and bookwork)


Is this the most dangerous job in the world?

Well it used to be. Not anymore because of the safety protocol developed since the implementation of OSHA standards.

Flathead Electric Co-op employs:

Journeyman Linemen

22 Journeyman Linemen

Journeyman Linemen Foremen
8 Journeyman Lineman Foremen

Journeyman Servicemen
3 Journeymen Servicemen

Don't Touch

Linemen do not touch a supposedly “dead” line until it has been

1) Isolated

2) Tested

3) Grounded

(Which means that you should NEVER assume a line is dead.)

Our primary concern is for the safety of our employees and our members. Our motto is; Want to survive? Assume it’s live. Never ever touch a downed power line.


Ribeye Raffle proceeds to benefit food banks

Ribeye Check to Food Banks
Mark Johnson presents check to Jamie Quinn, Executive Director of the Flathead Foodbank.

Flathead Electric Cooperative’s (FEC) Ribeye Raffle raised $11,748 this year, with all proceeds distributed to food banks in the Flathead Valley and Libby. In presenting the check to Jamie Quinn, Executive Director of the Flathead Food Bank, FEC General Manager, Mark Johnson, said this was a record year for the event, which he attributes to the new option people had of purchasing tickets online.

“Over 14,000 tickets were purchased this year, and the amount raised was more than double what the event has brought in since its inception in 2016. This now boosts the total up to $17,246 contributed to our food banks since we initiated the Ribeye Raffle.”

The annual fundraiser supports local 4H and FFA clubs by purchasing animals from the livestock sale at the Northwest Montana Fair. Most meat gets donated, but the premium cuts of each beef are raffled off as a fundraiser for the food banks in FEC’s service territory.

The winners of the Ribeye Raffle, Joshua Carr and Rachale Louthan, both of Kalispell, each took home approximately 60 one-inch-thick premium Ribeye and T-bone steaks (valued at over $500 per winner).

Flathead Electric Cooperative congratulates the winners and appreciates all who purchased tickets and participated in this important fundraiser for our members.


Simplify and Save

Go auto pay and paperless and get $12 per year!

Go Paperless

Flathead Electric offers members an automatic $0.50 monthly bill credit each for enrolling in auto pay and paperless billing (which adds up to $12 per year for those using both). With auto pay, the amount of your electric bill will be deducted automatically from your designated bank account on your billing due date. With paperless billing, you can view and pay your bill electronically, and will no longer receive a paper bill. These options can be set up through your online account. Call 406-751-4483 for assistance.


Youth Tour  2021 Replaced with Scholarship  Opportunity

Scholarship Essay Contest is open now

Youth Tour Replaced with Scholarship Opportunity

Montana’s electric cooperatives have elected not to participate in The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) 2021 Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. As a result, Flathead Electric Cooperative has closed their current call for applications.

However, current high school sophomores and juniors are invited to compete in a new essay contest instead! The top five essays submitted will receive $1,000 scholarships for future college or trade school.

The deadline to enter the contest is December 18. Like all FEC scholarships, funds are provided by unclaimed capital credits.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you

Jason Williams

Meet Jason Williams – Assistant General Manager

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

A. Experience. I have been working in the utility industry for over 20 years now in both the public and private arenas and have held many different roles that provide varying perspectives.

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

A. Being a part of the Co-op family-not just locally but nationally. Serving members as a not-for-profit, member-owned utility is very rewarding.

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

A. It may not be considered a superpower, but the ability to bring people together to come to a common consensus. There is such division across the country but also in our utility world on fish and wildlife conservation, carbon emissions, and other issues.


Roundup Report

Roundup for Safety grant to help with water rescues

A $5,000 Roundup for Safety grant to David Thompson Search & Rescue in Libby, will provide dry suits and wet gear duffle bags for the Boat/Swift Water Unit that responds to water-based incidents on rivers and lakes. Rescue swimmers respond to incidents where swift water is involved in all seasons and can encounter ice or water temperatures of 34°F during the cold months. Crews say high quality full body dry suits are integral to their safety and rescue operations.

September Projects Funded

  • Psalm 91 Inc. Crash bar safety doors $5,000


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.