North Fork of the Blackfoot River

Thankful & Grateful

Posted: October 31, 2019
Mark Hayden, General Manager

When you think about Missoula Electric Cooperative (MEC), you might associate us with the local community… and you would be right! Our leadership team, Board of Trustees and employees all live and work in the communities we serve. What you may not know, is that MEC is a part of a much larger cooperative network that brings additional value, tools, resources and knowledge to benefit you, the members of our co-op.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

When a severe weather event is predicted for our region, we often call on our sister co-ops to aid us in areas that may be impacted by the storm. Through this system of mutual aid, we coordinate with other co-ops to bring additional trucks, equipment and manpower to our area. We work together and share resources in order to restore power to our members. In return, MEC reciprocates by assisting other electric co-ops when they require help.

A defining characteristic of a cooperative is “cooperation among cooperatives.” This is the way in which co-ops work together to meet bigger challenges, such as power restoration after a severe weather event. Another area in which we benefit from cooperation among cooperatives is cybersecurity. Through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) “Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities Program” (RC3), we are able to access training and tools to strengthen and solidify our strategic plans to combat potential cyber threats.

MEC’s ability to tap into the larger electric cooperative network and access tools, products, resources and leading practices from across the nation, ultimately makes MEC and our communities stronger.

Bright Spot

The Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) project is another example of an area where MEC has benefitted from collaboration with other electric co-ops. Through the SUNDA project, electric co-ops were able to collect data and case studies that provide insight into challenges and solutions related to solar energy technologies. Now, electric cooperatives across the country, including MEC, have access to a set of knowledge and resources to more efficiently tailor our renewable energy mix to meet the needs of our local communities.

Global Impact

Lastly, communities across the globe have benefited from the experience and lessons learned by co-ops in the electrification of rural areas across the nation. NRECA International has provided access to reliable, affordable electricity to 120 million people in 43 countries. This effort is made possible through the support of electric co-ops in Montana and across the country.

Hundreds of lineworkers, engineers and other co-op employees have served as volunteers, to lead and build, in countries that don’t have access to electricity. They’ve also helped train local community members to be self-sustainable long after their departure.

November is a time of year for reflection and giving thanks. I am grateful for our sister co-ops who enable us to better serve our members and the broader community, which is something we can be truly thankful for. Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!