Flathead Audubon is pleased to recognize Flathead Electric Co-op for our Conservation Achievement Recognition award. Flathead Electric is one of the most progressive electric cooperatives in Montana and probably in the west and for good reason! A brief mention of the many efforts Flathead Electric Co-op is involved with follows.

Are you aware that the Flathead Valley has a community solar project? Did you know that methane gas from the Flathead County Land fill is being recovered and converted to electricity so that this potent greenhouse gas doesn’t escape into the atmosphere or groundwater? Did you know that you can save about $4/month by allowing your electric hot water heater to be occasionally turned off for short periods of time? These are just a few of the many innovative conservation and energy efficiency programs that Flathead Electric Co-op has implemented over the last 5-10 years. These new programs are some of the first in the state. And this is only the beginning; Flathead Electric has many more creative and forward-thinking plans in the works.

Landfill Gas Plant– “Your garbage is producing your power.” That’s how Flathead County Public Works Director Dave Prunty describes Flathead Electric Co-op’s biomass project at the landfill.  The 1.6 megawatt generator that burns the methane provides enough electricity to serve up to 1,600 households. 

F. H. Stoltze Land & Lumber– Flathead Electric Co-op and F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement in 2013. The long-term agreement was needed to help Stoltze secure the necessary finances to replace an antiquated boiler and construct a biomass-fueled electric generation facility at their plant near Columbia Falls. 

Whitefish Hydro– In 2012, Flathead Electric Co-op signed a two-phase power purchase agreement with the City of Whitefish for the advance purchase of electricity generated from the city’s hydro-electric generator. The project benefitted Whitefish who needed to refurbish the hydro power plant and gave Flathead Electric another local source of clean energy .

Community Solar –The SUN (Solar Utility Network), Montana’s first community solar array, was officially dedicated in 2015. By 2016, all 356 solar panels in the array had been purchased (for $900 per panel) by members who support investing in alternative energy. The 356 solar panels total 100kW of output. This enables people to participate in solar energy without the large expense of a complete system at their location and for those who don’t have the proper roof orientation or those with shading issues.

Electric Vehicle Committee In 2015, Flathead Electric Co-op installed Montana’s first Chargepoint Vehicle Charging Station in the front parking lot of their Kalispell Headquarters in Evergreen. The charging station is available for anyone who wants to pull in and power-up their electric vehicles. 

Rebates for Electric Hot Water Heaters- Recently, Flathead Electric developed a unit that can be placed on your residential electric water heater that allows the heater to be turned off briefly during peak demand times. The duration is short, maybe 30 minutes, and might only occur once a week. Participants are rewarded with a $4/month account credit.

Flathead Electric Cooperative is working on many other conservation projects that will ultimately reduce electrical costs and increase efficiencies. They have clearly raised the bar for electric cooperatives across Montana and other states. These innovative and effective projects directly and clearly benefit not only Co-op members but also our environment, our children’s future, and our bottom lines. For more information, visit https://www.flatheadelectric.com/ or contact Wendy Ostrom-Price w.ostrom-price@flathead.coop or 406-751-1820.

We salute Flathead Electric for their accomplishments and encourage them to continue their innovative projects.