What Are You Grateful For?

Posted: November 1, 2022
Mark Hayden, GM

It is said that the things we can accomplish together, are far greater than what we can accomplish alone. I am proud to say that together, as a cooperative, and as a community, we have accomplished much this year.

Let me first begin by applauding you, our members. Together, in just five quarters, you have collectively donated $87,597.23 to MEC’s Operation Round Up® (ORU) program. This was achieved simply by members who elected to round up their monthly power bill to the nearest dollar. Every penny collected was pooled together to help local organizations and communities address unmet needs for youth, education, public safety, health, and community and emergency services. By choosing to round up, you are making a collective impact! Among some of the ORU recipients include the new Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, the Seeley Lake Community Foundation, Frenchtown Adventure Club, Grace Hospice, Ovando Elementary School and more. This program highlights the Co-op’s Concern for Community, which is one of the MEC’s seven guiding principles, and just one of many reasons why MEC adopted the program in 2021.

In August, we unveiled the first level 3 electric vehicle (EV) fast charger in our service territory. The EV charging station was constructed with assistance from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s “Fast Charge Your Ride” grant. The purpose of these grants is to offset the cost of building a high-speed electric vehicle charging network along interstate corridors and in tourist locations. Seeley Lake was chosen as a premium location for the 50-kilowatt DC charger, as it is a travel destination that would support EV drivers exploring Western Montana. When we were looking for a partner to host the station, the Seeley Lake Community Foundation was a natural choice for its mission, values and commitment to the community. It is through community partnerships, like this, that we can positively and proactively impact those in and around our service area.

On September 13, MEC hosted the first “Electrify the Big Sky” beneficial electrification conference in Montana. Industry experts from across the nation joined us at the University of Montana to present on topics surrounding beneficial electrification, EVs in Montana, the future of electricity and more. The conference attendance exceeded all expectations with a record-setting 330 attendees, far surpassing other beneficial electrification conferences across the U.S. Thank you to those that joined us to learn, to better understand, to network and to prepare for the future of electricity. We are excited to have helped kick start what is anticipated to become an annual or bi-annual event in Montana.

Lastly, I want to address our progress on the Co-op’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP). The efforts surrounding this plan not only help us mitigate the risk of powerline-sparked wildfires, but also help us improve system reliability and reduce outages. A considerable portion of the WMP relies on the proactive efforts of our Right-Of-Way (ROW) crews. This year, MEC’s ROW crew received the support of two Asplundh contract crews, which allowed us to be timelier and more effective with the inspection and clearing of high priority areas. The extra crews also help us work our aggressive Vegetation Management Program, which targets a full-system inspection every two years. System inspections help crews identify which trees or vegetation are hazardous and trim or remove them accordingly. This year, our ROW crews inspected and cleared priority areas Northeast of Missoula. This includes the I-90 corridor between Bonner and Drummond and everything up the Blackfoot Drainage Basin.

“Gratitude turns what we have, into enough.” So, this November, I encourage you to focus on gratitude and recognize those who have positively impacted you and your loved ones this year. I am grateful for the generosity of our members, the continued partnerships within our communities, the opportunity to use our platform to share knowledge and the continued efforts of our employees.

From all of us here at MEC, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!