One of the Montana Electric Co-op Association’s (MECA) top awards, the Hog-Tied Award, this year went to Stacey Schnebel, a Flathead Electric Co-op trustee and member of the MECA board. The award was announced at MECA’s annual meeting Oct. 9. The Hog-Tied Award is presented to a cooperative director or employee who has exemplified exceptional courage, skill or determination in dealing with individuals on public-policy issues of importance to electric cooperatives. Through her role as a trustee for Flathead Electric and MECA, as well as a sitting member of the Upper Columbia Conservation Commission, Schnebel’s work was instrumental in changing the way Montana funds its fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS).

The 2017 Legislature had revised laws providing revenue sources for preventing the spread of AIS, which put a large portion of the funding burden onto Montana’s electric cooperatives that purchase hydropower. The estimated impact on Flathead Electric Cooperative alone was more than $648,000 over a two-year period. In his award presentation, MECA president, Brent McRae said it is nearly impossible to account for the time and dedication Ms. Schnebel contributed to the cause through her countless meetings, hearings and conversations on behalf of electric cooperatives across the state.

“As we now know, the 2019 Legislature did find a funding mechanism more equitable for all concerned. And, knowing AIS is not Montana’s problem alone, Ms. Schnebel also supported a MECA resolution amendment proposal ultimately approved by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The resolution emphasized the importance of pursuing avenues to procure federal funding to address the problem as well. Congratulations to the MECA Hog-Tied Award winner, Stacey Schnebel!”