wilderness with snowy mountains in background

Reflecting On 2021

Posted: January 1, 2022
Mark Hayden, GM

There were a number of notable events and accomplishments at your Cooperative in 2021. The first event that I’d like to reflect on took place mere weeks after we closed the door on 2020. On January 13th, our members endured a record-setting windstorm, which downed lines, uprooted trees and destroyed property across our service area and beyond. Wind gusts estimated above 100 mph tore across the Northwest and left nearly 700,000 Americans without power. Electric utilities across the Northwest were spread thin, but luckily, MEC received the support of four additional crews, comprised of linemen from Ravalli Electric Cooperative, Vigilante Electric Cooperative and Rocky Mountain Contractors. These crews worked tirelessly, alongside our very own, to clear right of way, repair damaged lines and restore power to approximately 6,000 MEC members. Our appreciation extends to not only the neighboring co-ops, who quickly came to our aid, but to the impacted members for their support and patience, and our employees for a job well done.

The New Year’s storm tested our team and our members, but it was only the beginning of the Co-op’s achievements in 2021.

One of our largest recent undertakings wrapped up in spring of 2021. The El Mar Estates underground cable replacement was a high priority project, which tasked our team with the replacement of aging high voltage cables and transformers serving the El Mar Estates subdivision in Missoula. Over the course of the two-year project, our crews replaced over 67,000 feet of cable and 100 transformers. This significant project required the patience and cooperation of our El Mar community members, the partnership of Rocky Mountain Contractors and the dedicated work of our crew members. I’d like to thank each of you for your commitment to the project, which will greatly improve our service reliability for many years to come!

In June of 2021, MEC launched Operation Round Up® (ORU), a new member-led charitable-giving program. This program invites MEC members to round their monthly bill to the nearest dollar, to help make an impact in the communities in which they live and work. Every penny that is donated, is pooled together to benefit local non-profits, agencies and organizations. The third quarter funds raised from the generosity of our members alone, amounted to over $16,500. The ORU Board, comprised of a member representative from each district, met in October to review and score applications. The organizations selected to receive funding were 4Missoula, Potomac Valley 4-H, Seeley Lake Community Foundation, Alpine Artisans, Boys and Girls Club of Missoula County, Veterans & Families of Seeley Lake, the Franklin School MTSS Program and the new “Welcome to Lolo” community sign. For details on the program, to review quarterly donations, or to apply for funding, please visit the ORU webpage. To opt in or out of the program at any time, please email billing@meccoop.com, call 406.541.4433 or login to your SmartHub account.

Two additional announcements come from our Energy Services Department. We are excited to share that in 2021, we officially sold out of community solar panels at our third solar array, the K3 Solarshare Garden in Bonner. Not only do we have our sights set on future community solar opportunities, but we also received approval to install MEC’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging station at the Seeley Lake Community Foundation in Seeley Lake.

This station will benefit locals and tourists, alike, as electric vehicle popularity continues to soar! We look forward to sharing more of this department’s accomplishments as the year progresses.

Year after year, we welcome new members, plan and execute necessary projects, and strategize for the future. And while the yearly goals may change, our values remain the same. The Board, myself and our team at MEC are committed to exceptional customer service and delivering on our promise of safe, affordable, and reliable energy.

We look forward to serving you in 2022!