November 2022 Outage

Is there a text messaging service I can sign up for, proactively?

Yes! We offer two different text services, and it’s important to understand the difference.

Option 1: You can proactively sign up for automatic text messages that tell you when your power goes out and when it is restored. These automatic messages are not sent in real-time, as staff first verifies the outage, and the restoration, before sending. Because they are sent after the fact, these text messages do not offer an estimated time of restoration (ETOR) nor do they give a cause of power loss. These automatic messages may be helpful to those members who are out of the area for an extended period and want to know if they have experienced an outage.

  • If your mobile number is associated with your FEC account, you can sign up for automatic text messages by texting “Flathead” to the number 85700. (Please note: only one mobile number is allowed per member in this system. You may need to call us during  business hours  at (406) 751-4483 to verify that your cell number is correctly associated with your membership in order for this service to function properly.)

Option 2: When your power goes out, you can choose to sign up for  Outage Map  text messages (meaning these are not automatic, you have to sign up during each outage) that may offer you a cause, an ETOR, and a notification when power is restored. These non-automatic text messages are helpful during outage situations, but they are not perfect, as dispatchers are not always able to update the Outage Map in real time during large outages.

You can choose to use either service or both.

Are you going to pay for my spoiled food?

While FEC tries to provide electricity to people as reliably as possible, periodic outages are inevitable with the extreme weather conditions we experience in Northwest Montana. Individual damages incurred by “Acts of Nature” aren’t covered by our insurance, which is another reason we encourage members to have plans in place to keep themselves (and their personal property) safe in case of power outages.

Is it OK to ask a lineworker for an update if I see them working during an outage?

Lineworker in a bucket truck working on a power line. Let them work. If you see a Co-op crew working in your area, please don't approach them or ask them for outage updates. They have a dangerous job, please let them focus.No. You wouldn’t interrupt a heart surgeon doing their job, would you? Our crews are working with high-voltage electricity, which is extremely dangerous. Please give them distraction-free space so that they can perform their jobs safely.

The more you stop and talk to them, the less of their job they can do.

Instead of asking a lineworker for updates, please visit our Outage Center.

To send crews your appreciation, reach out to your Co-op here: Get in touch!

Why don’t you put more power lines underground?

We do, every year. Over half of our 5,000 mile system is already underground, and last year, we added another 71.42 miles of underground lines and eliminated 10.63 miles of overhead lines.

However, replacing the entire overhead system with an underground system isn’t practical – it’s not just the cost (which would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars and would significantly raise electricity rates), it’s also that outages on underground lines can be much harder to find and much more challenging to repair. Finally, there are many places in our area where it is impossible to put lines underground, due to geologic considerations, among others.

Are you going to come back and clean up downed trees?

In our efforts to restore power to all members as quickly as possible, we don’t do tree cleanup onsite nor do we come back to do cleanup following a major weather event. Circling back to do that cleanup would put us way behind on our system work which helps make our system more reliable and resilient to these types of events. We simply don’t have the manpower or resources to manage this scale of tree cleanup effort.

We can refer members to other tree services who can assist – we have several local tree services that assist in cleanup to chip trees and brush and haul off debris.

Tree Care Providers:

Note: Your Co-op does not endorse, recommend, or screen any of the listed tree services.

If you would like to be added to this list, please contact us.

Why don’t you trim more trees around power lines?

We trim what we legally can.

We want you to know that we trim every tree and branch legally available to us in our right-of-ways in an effort to prevent outages. We can only trim those and the trees that property owners allow us to trim. If you’ve declined our request to trim your trees in the past, we invite you to change your mind.

We have two full-time, year-round tree trimming crews, plus more contract arborists that we call on for additional help, as we did during this outage restoration. We also have a very deliberate plan for tree trimming - it is not done randomly, but by design. More questions about trees and power lines? Check out our Tree Trimming center here.