May 2022 Light Reading

Light Reading Your News from Flathead Electric Co-op

Download May 2022 Light Reading (PDF)

CONTENTS

RATES

Co-op trustees announce 0% rate revenue increase for fourth year in a row.

Around us, the cost of everything is increasing. We’re all paying more, whether it’s for a gallon of diesel, milk, or paint. Your Co-op’s costs – for essentials like power poles, bucket trucks, and wire – have increased, too.

However, the Board of Trustees is very pleased to announce that your electricity rates are remaining stable. This stability is in large part thanks to increased efficiencies at your Co-op. Last year, we saved over $250,000 in paperless efforts alone! In addition, the affordability, reliability, and renewability of hydropower also helped to keep costs low. Read on to learn more about the importance of hydropower!

While the cost of everything is rising, your Co-op is pleased to announce a 0% overall rate increase for your residential electricity rates.
While the cost of everything is rising, your Co-op is pleased to announce a 0% overall rate increase for your residential electricity rates.

For the 4th year in a row, there is a 0% overall rate increase for residential energy rates. Trustees approved a revenue-neutral change in the Co-op’s residential rate structure. Non-residential rates, i.e., general service, industrial, and irrigation, remain unchanged.

Effective June 1, energy charges will decrease, while demand charges will increase slightly. You can check out all of the details in the rate letter included with your May bill.

Decreasing the energy rate offsets increasing the demand rate and gives you more control over your electric bill. By reducing your demand during peak time windows, you can reduce your bill, even if you’re not reducing your overall demand for electricity outside of those times. As a reminder, peak times occur Monday through Friday (no major holidays, no weekends) from 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

Your Co-op purchases about 97% of our electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). A major component of how we are charged by BPA is via their demand charge. The change to your Co-op’s residential rate structure is designed to better match how we pay BPA. We can keep everyone’s power affordable if we shift our collective energy use to times when demand for electricity is lower, and therefore prices are too. 

Starting June 1, 2022, you’ll see these new rates on your bill. Your Co-op wants to help you keep your demand – and your bill – low.  

TOP

How can I lower my bill?

Small changes in your behavior can keep you from incurring a high demand charge.

Peak hours

Peak Hours

We measure your electrical demand during our peak hours of Monday-Friday, 7-10 AM and 5-8 PM. (No major holidays or weekends.)

Old behavior

Old behavior

If your large appliances are being used during peak hours, it costs the Co-op more to purchase that power.

New behavior

New behavior

Small modifications, like setting your dishwasher on a timer to run at 10 PM, or only doing laundry in the middle of the day or on weekends, will shift your electric load outside of peak hours and save you money in the long run.

Want to learn more about the demand charge?

Watch this 3 minute video:


TOP

Local student electrifies Flathead County Science Fair

Emily Lockhart at science fair
Photo courtesy of Casey Kreider, Daily Interlake

Emily Lockhart received the award for Best Energy Related Science Project at the 2022 Flathead County Science Fair for “Zap That Wire,” which also won Physical Sciences Grand Champion, Eighth Grade. 

Wanting to know which type of wire best conducted electricity, Lockhart wired a light bar for a Jeep-type vehicle with copper, aluminum, stainless steel, and steel. Her hypothesis was that copper wire would have the best conductivity. She was correct. By contrast, stainless steel wire proved to have the worst conductivity. 

A Trinity Lutheran student, Lockhart is the daughter of Brian Lockhart, a Journeyman Substation Wireman with the Co-op. Neither were aware of the award prior to the Science Fair. “I was totally surprised,” Emily admitted.  

When asked about her future, Lockhart shared that she is interested in pursuing an engineering career with the Co-op.

TOP

We Want YOU – to learn more about the lower Snake River dams!

Lower Monumental Dam BPA
Lower Monumental Dam on the lower Snake River | Bonneville Power Administration

Your Co-op takes a lot of pride in being able to offer you affordable, reliable, carbon-free electricity. Unfortunately, every now and again that low-cost, constant, clean energy is threatened. Right now, there are calls by well-meaning, but misguided, groups to remove dams on the lower Snake River. Although this issue may feel far downriver from northwest Montana, it’s not. And it’s urgent. We invite you to learn more about the lower Snake River dams and to take action to protect the dams, and your electricity.

Working together is a critical component of cooperative success, back in 1937 and today. Please help your Co-op protect your interests – all our interests.

TOP

Co-op Connection

Get to know the people working for you.

John Hahn

John Hahn — Journeyman Lineman, Cooke City

The more you know: you’re probably pretty familiar with your Co-op’s major service area, the greater Flathead valley. You might not know that the Co-op also provides electricity in Cooke City, Montana, as the result of its 1998 purchase of PacifiCorp. In 1994, John Hahn joined the Co-op as a tree trimmer in Kalispell. Today, he’s a one man show who keeps the lights on in Cooke City!

Q. What does a journeyman lineman do for the Co-op in Cooke City?

A. Well, everything. It’s just me. I trim trees, perform maintenance on the lines, and fix problems when they occur.

Q. What’s the best part of your job? 

A. Being my own boss. I work for our members in Cooke City, but since it’s just me, I mostly decide what my daily priorities are. Some days I maintain rights-of-ways. Other days I do line maintenance. Every day is different.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about living in Cooke City?

A. Everything! I jumped at the chance to work here. I love to snowmobile, and I love the isolation in Cooke City, too. No cell service and no internet suits me just me fine. 

TOP

Roundup Report Flathead Rivers Alliance
Photo courtesy of Flathead Rivers Alliance

Flathead Rivers Alliance

Flathead Rivers Alliance received help with its loaner life jacket program. This program is in partnership with Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and other stakeholders, including the Flathead Resource Advisory Committee, which provided the project’s seed money. Sheena Pate, Watershed Coordinator, noted that the agencies’ collective goal is to eliminate preventable river fatalities. The Roundup for Safety Board awarded $5,000.

April Projects Funded

  • The Patrol Fund — Avalanche dog deployment pack $2,700
  • A Ray of Hope Shelter security cameras $4,000
  • Northwest Montana Historical SocietyEntrance security cameras $4,000
  • Kalispell Fire DepartmentStat packs $4,500
  • Farming for the Future Academy — No dig fence and bear guard $4,500
  • Three Rivers EMSVacuum mattresses $4,400
  • Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp — Life jackets $2,000
  • Libby Assembly of God — Fire suppression system for kitchen $6,000
  • Columbia Falls Youth Softball Association Fencing $4,500
  • Community for Better BigforkEmergency fire exit stairs $10,000
RoundUp for Safety Flathead Electric Cooperative

ROUNDUP FOR SAFETY is a voluntary program for FEC members who round up their electric bills to the next dollar. This money is managed by an independent board and goes into a fund for community safety projects.

TOP