September 2020 Light Reading Newsletter

Light Reading September 2020

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 September 2020 Light Reading (PDF)


Electric Vehicles

Flathead Electric Co-op is recognizing “National Drive Electric Week” (September 26-October 4), by celebrating the success of our electric vehicle (EV) programs. FEC is on the leading edge in advancing these technologies.

How does FEC compare to other counties in Montana in terms of electric vehicle registration?

EV Saturation Map of Montana

At 257, Flathead County has the top EV count in the state (2.8 times more than the average). Missoula County is next with 143, followed by Gallatin County at 126.

Percentage of EV registration

Flathead has 27% of the EVs in the state, despite having only 10% of the population.

3 yearsFlathead is estimated to be 3 years ahead of EV adoption compared to other Montana counties.

How has FEC been innovative in its use of EV technology?

FECs Nissan Leaf

We provide EVs for members to take home and try out.

FEC installed charging stations at the Kalispell headquarters.

The Co-op partners with area businesses to strategically install EV chargers for public use.

Our residential rate encourages EV owners to save money by charging their vehicle during off-peak hours.

What are the monetary gains from EV use for FEC and its members?

Cost of electricity vs cost of gasoline

Electricity is cheaper than gas. Gasoline would need to cost $0.63/gallon to match the price of the clean, efficient, hydro-powered electricity purchased from FEC.

icon no maintenanceWith no oil changes, no transmission to repair, and a regenerative braking feature that reduces the wear on brake pads, overall maintenance costs are significantly lower.

Money icon

The existing fleet of EVs in Flathead County generates approximately $180,000 in retail energy sales each year, helping to spread out infrastructure costs for all concerned.

What are some other benefits of EV use?

icon carbon free

EVs are zero-emissions vehicles, so they don’t contribute to smog. One thing we learned from the Pandemic is (according to NASA) that air pollution measurable improved across the nation, in part because there were fewer cars on the road and less carbon dioxide in the environment.

icon safe

Electric cars are among the safest cars on the road. Because their batteries are heavy and mounted low, some EVs are almost impossible to roll.

icon quiet

EVs are quiet, and they accelerate and handle like an expensive sports car.

USA Connected

To further support EV technology into the future, FEC is teaming up with other co-ops in the state to install a network of charging stations. The new network will compliment other systems to enable convenient travel throughout much of North America.


October 1 Virtual EV Day

Save the Date for Virtual EV Day!

In recognition of National Drive Electric Week, FEC will host a Virtual EV Day on October 1. Attendees will have a chance to hear from and ask questions to local EV experts and owners. Plus, two lucky attendees will win a $200 electric bill credit and get to take home one of our EVs to drive for two weeks! Sign up for this online event.


Never EVER touch downed power lines

When linemen work on electrical equipment, they never assume a power line is dead — even if it’s down, or even during a power outage. They can’t tell by looking at it, and neither can you. Testing by professionals is the only way to verify if a line is energized or not.

That’s why crews were deeply alarmed by the actions of some during our last power outages. Journeyman lineman Dustin Jordan says he thinks some members grew impatient at the length of time it took to restore power and remove debris, so decided to take matters into their own hands which, he says, was a very, very dangerous thing to do.

Downed Power Line

Dustin Jordan

“People had cut and coiled wire to get it off their trees or out of their driveway and so on. They may have even thought they were helping us. The fact that they weren’t killed, however, is sheer luck. I heard one man say he ‘knew the line was safe’ because it was on the ground and there was an outage going on. What he didn’t understand is it’s impossible to know that.”

Energized lines don’t necessarily spark or otherwise give warning. They can look completely dead. The bottom-line, Jordan says, is if it’s not dead and you touch it, you will be dead (or severely injured).

If you see a downed power line, please notify the Co-op right away, stay far away from it, and wait for our crews to arrive on scene. If you see sparking or fire in a power line or other type of emergency situation, please call 911.

“Our motto is: IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE, ASSUME IT’S LIVE. Never, ever touch a downed power line.”


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you.

Tia Robbin

Meet Tia Robbin, Director of Human Resources

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

A. I brought my background in employment law to the Co-op, along with my desire to help our employees succeed. I also brought my deep family roots in the Valley and love for this beautiful place we call home.

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

A. Every decision at the Co-op is made by asking “what is best for the members?” And with every trustee and every employee also being a member of the Co-op, everyone shares that perspective and genuine motivation.

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

A. I love to travel and hate missing family events due to COVID-19.  Tele-transportation would come in handy!


Roundup Report

Grant will help protect young horse riders from head injuries

A $750 grant to the RCA MT Pro Rodeo Royalty will help equip young horse riders with helmets and raise awareness about the importance of wearing proper helmets for safety. The group plans to host informational booths at each of their rodeos and conduct helmet drawings for children. The booths will be supervised by younger rodeo royalty, which the RCA says is a good way for kids to learn to help other kids.

August Projects Funded

  • Hope Pregnancy Ministries Door locks  $160
  • Klothes Kloset Thrift Store Parking lot pavement  $5,000
  • David Thompson Search & Rescue Dry suits & wet gear duffel bags $5,000

Rodeo Helmets

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.