September 2021 Light Reading Newsletter

Light Reading Your News from Flathead Electric Co-op

Download September 2021 Light Reading (PDF)


How electric vehicles impact the grid

Electric Vehicle Registration by County

Adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing rapidly in the U.S. Montana is no exception, and Flathead County is leading the pack with 475 EVs out of a total of 1,781 for the state, followed by Gallatin and Missoula Counties with 259 and 257 respectively. Flathead Electric Co-op (FEC) can’t predict how fast the numbers will grow, but we can plan for their presence and impacts. Electric vehicles provide an opportunity for FEC to expand services for members and to do so in a manner that mitigates their impact on the Co-op’s costs and therefore on member costs. (Data Courtesy

EV Map of Montana
EV Charging Impact

Charging impact

The addition of an EV with L2 charger can more than double a home’s electricity use, drawing up to 19kW. By comparison, a large clothes dryer pulls about 5kW.

EV System Wear and Tear

System wear & tear

With more EVs on the grid, system planners will need to consider the impact of charging on grid hardware.

EV Multiple Vehicles

Multiple vehicles

As car manufacturers continue to focus on electrification, and charging infrastructure becomes more prevalent, co-ops can expect homes and neighborhoods with multiple EVs to increase.

EV Level 1

Level 1

Level 1 charging uses a standard 120V outlet. Impact on the grid is minimal, and at roughly 3 to 5 miles of range per hour of charge, it’s plenty for a daily commute under 40 miles.

EV Level 2

Level 2

Level 2 (L2) uses a 240V circuit and provides 10 to 20 miles of range per hour.

As use of L2 units increases, utilities are considering managed charging programs to move use to off-peak hours to reduce impacts. That’s one reason FEC implemented a demand charge as part of our billing structure. It is only measured and charged during peak hours (when it costs FEC more to purchase power), which makes our billing more equitable for all members.

If EVs were charged off FEC’s peak hours the energy and dollar savings could be significant for individual members and the Co-op as a whole.

EV Two-way flow

Two-way flow

New charging technologies are promising in that eventually, they may make it possible to draw power from an EV and directly supply a home or business or dispatch the electricity to the grid, providing added efficiencies and reliability. FEC has been proactive in gathering data from electric vehicles and charging stations to analyze the costs, benefits, and impacts of these fast-growing technologies on our system to better prepare for the future of the Co-op and its members.


Electric Vehicle Day - Save your Gas for the Grill - Test Drive an EV

Save the date for Electric Vehicle (EV) Day

Interested in learning more about EVs? Save the date for EV Day. Save your gas for the grill on Thursday, September 30th.

From 10 AM until 4 PM we will be at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Trade Center offering test drives, EV education, and a BBQ lunch starting at 11 AM. Several models of plug-in electric vehicles will be available from Tesla, Nissan, Chevy and more. This event is free and open to the public. See you there!


Outage Map

New and improved outage map — a valuable tool for members 

Flathead Electric Cooperative would like to remind members about its online outage map which provides details during power outages. Recently, the tool has been updated to make it easier for members to get information during outages, especially from their mobile devices. Due to our extreme weather events, a healthy wildlife population, and other factors, power outages are a reality in Northwest Montana. That’s the bad news. The good news is that FEC members can use the Co-op’s outage map to track a power outage and sign up for text updates on the cause and estimated time of restoration. 

The outage map outlines current outage locations and the number of members impacted, and details about the outages are automatically updated as new information becomes available. This also means that the information is available from anywhere, even if a member is away from home. If someone is at work, for example, and concerned about a storm situation, they can tell if the power is out in the vicinity of their residence so they can make provisions. And, if an outage is noted on the map, that means FEC dispatchers and crews are aware of the situation and working toward repairs, which is comforting to know. 

The menu on the outage map also includes direct links to outage resources where members can report electrical equipment damage and learn valuable information like what to do during an outage, how power is restored following a storm, and the importance of never touching or going near downed power lines. 

For more information on outages, visit our Outage Center. To report a power outage, call 751-4449 or 1-800-406-0762.


Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you

Ashley Keltner

Meet Ashley Keltner —System Engineer

Q. What do you bring to your Co-op? 

A. A willingness to take on any project, task, or challenge thrown my way, along with an aspiration to assist my fellow Co-op employees with their challenges in any way I can. 

Q. What’s the best thing about working here? 

A. Working among a group of people with a common goal is great. Doing that in a place that serves the interests of the local community, the place I grew up in, and the members of the Cooperative, who just all happen to be the same group of people, make it even better. 

Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be? 

A. No doubt about it, I want to fly! I have ever since I watched Superman as a kid. 


Roundup Report

Grant will enhance safety of patient transfers

Three Rivers EMS

A $3,500 grant to Three Rivers EMS for scoop stretchers and vacuum splints will help provide the safest, most efficient care possible to patients during trauma situations. Scoop stretchers minimize the need to roll patients (which risks additional injury) and vacuum splints provide a more effective stabilization of broken limbs. Three Rivers, which responds to all of the Canyon areas (and is mutual aid for Whitefish and Evergreen), says all members of the Co-op could potentially benefit from this equipment.

August Projects Funded

  • Northwest Montana History Museum
    LCD emergency panel $3,693
  • Boy Scouts of America
    Emergency kits for Marion School $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.