Is Your Power Out?
- Check your fuses or breakers.
- Check the breaker below your meter.
- Check if your neighbors have electricity.
- Check our outage map. If there’s already a verified outage listed in your area, click on the outage and sign up to receive updates. We’ll text you as soon as we determine a cause and estimated time of restoration.
- If our outage map doesn’t already show a verified outage in your area, please call 406-751-4449 or 800-406-0762 to report it. (We have a team on staff 24/7 to assist our members with power outages.)
Thank you for your patience as our crews work to restore your outage as quickly and safely as possible!
Frequently Asked Questions
The majority of our power outages are weather and tree-related. That’s one of the unfortunate realities of living in this beautiful (and heavily treed) area of Northwest Montana. Because of this, Flathead Electric Co-op has a robust Vegetation Management Program. Trees interfering with electric utility lines or equipment are pruned or removed on a rotating schedule. To protect the 1,700 miles of overhead line, crews have a big job to do, trimming trees along 150 to 200 miles of line each year. This is in addition to responding to hundreds of tree trimming or removal requests from our members each year. FEC’s tree trimming program is an industry best practice designed to prevent dangerous situations and ensure electric reliability.
Unfortunately, we can only control so much when it comes to trees. We can only trim trees within our legal rights-of-way, and when major wind events hit, tall and otherwise healthy trees are sent toppling into power lines. We can assure you that our tree-related outages would be far worse if not for the ongoing efforts of our tree crews. Tree trimming and removal is a constant effort for FEC and our crews in an effort to keep our system as safe and reliable as possible for the members we serve.
Learn more about FEC’s tree trimming program on our tree maintenance and safety webpage.
Please note that this line is not answered during major events as our dispatchers prioritize 911 calls and crew assignments. You will be transferred into our automated system to report your outage.
(We have a team on staff 24/7 to assist our members with power outages.)
Please keep phone lines open for all members affected by the outage. We know that being without power is inconvenient and frustrating, and we assure you that one call is all you need to make. FEC will work around the clock, if necessary, to restore your service as quickly as possible.
Even though the Co-op’s dispatch center is staffed 24/7 to assist with outages, they often can’t answer all the calls coming in.
Increasing our specialized workforce to prepare for rare but large events would be cost-prohibitive because the majority of the time when we’re not responding to major outage situations, we would be paying for more employees than we need. Instead, to help keep rates low, we have mutual aid agreements allowing us to bring in reinforcements when needed. FEC crews serve others in return, under our principle of “Cooperation Among Cooperatives.”
As hard as we work to keep power reliable, storms and power outages are a reality here. Having a backup plan in place should also be a reality for those of us who live here.
Use this checklist to make sure you’re prepared:
- Do you need a generator?
- Do you have extra water?
- Do you have flashlights and batteries?
- Do you have a backup heat source?
- Do you have a plan to keep pipes from freezing during winter outages and food from spoiling during summer outages?
- Do you have provisions for the needs of your animals?
- Do you have problem trees near power lines that need to be removed?
- Do you have alternative provisions if you rely on electricity for medical purposes?
While FEC understands the sense of urgency experienced during an outage, it’s not always feasible for crews to respond immediately to every area impacted, so we always encourage our members to be prepared.
That’s a great question. Here’s what you need to know about this subject, using data as of spring 2021:
Since 2000, 1,625 miles of new underground line has been added to FEC’s system. (1,625 miles will take you all the way down the West coast. If you start in Seattle and go South for 1600 miles, you’ll end up in Tijuana, Mexico.)
FEC has 5,014 total miles of energized line, over half of which is underground.
Underground line is not feasible at all locations including wetlands, high water tables, river crossings, for existing structures, or where there are rocky soil conditions.
Members generally decide whether new line extensions are installed below or above ground. That decision is usually based on costs and aesthetics, with most new services being underground installation.
Members are required to install underground lines when there is limited access for Co-op crews to complete the overhead installation, for safety regulations (clearances from signs, buildings, pedestrian traffic, etc.), and when state permits require it.
Besides the cost, there are other challenges to installing underground line. Although underground may decrease the frequency of outages, it can also increase the duration of outages if there is a cable fault. It takes much longer to restore power when lines must be excavated to repair.
There are too many variables to provide an exact cost comparison between installing overhead and underground, but shorter line extensions can cost three times as much to go underground, while long extensions can reach upwards of ten times the cost of overhead.
Replacing our entire system would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. As a member-owned cooperative, those increased costs would fall onto our members through our rates.
The Co-op does constant analysis on where capital system improvements (like overhead to underground conversions) would benefit the membership as a whole.
FEC has always been (and will continue to be) committed to maintaining a balance on our system to provide reliable service and affordable rates now and for future generations.