FEC’s Community Solar Array Project

FEC-CommunitySolarProjectBy Catherine Haug, Aug 10, 2015; updated Aug 18, 2015 (Image, right from Flathead Electric Coop)

FEC began construction in June of this year on Solar Utility Network (SUN), a community project (1). This is a community solar array near the Stillwater Substation on Whitefish Stage Road in Kalispell (on Co-op property), and is scheduled for completion in September. Its power output will be shared by all FEC customers. This is the first project of its kind in Montana.

Last week we polled our readers for interest in a gathering about this project, to determine if we will go forward with its planning. Only 5 people responded to the poll, so we determined NOT to plan a gathering, as there would likely be a very light turnout. Instead, I will interview Ross Holter of FEC about this project and other energy efficiency programs they offer for home owners, then write up an article for this website.

For more information on FEC’s SUN project, read on.

You can procure one of 365 solar panels for $900/panel, then be rewarded by a small monthly power credit on your FEC bill over the 25-year warrantied life of the solar panels. There are a limited number of panels to be acquired at a first-come, first-serve basis.

FEC says the “$900 solar panels are comparable to the cost of ones sold on the market, and less expensive when considering setup and installation.” A complete installation for a typical home would be “a minimum of several thousand dollars,” per Ross Holter of FEC (in an interview by the Daily Inter Lake (2)). Energy produced from the panels will go directly into the grid; a meter will track the amount of energy produced. The monthly credit on electric bills (for participants) will be determined by how much energy a household uses. (2)

The credit will be a small amount of the average user’s bill. Each panel is expected to produce approximately 359 kilowatts a year; average households use 13,200 kilowatts a year (1100 kilowatts/month). (2)

You can read the full article in the Daily Inter Lake in the August 10, 2015 issue or online (see references for link).


  1. FEC: flatheadelectric.com/energy/sun/sun.html
  2. Daily Inter Lake article: dailyinterlake.com/members/flathead-electric-launches-solar-panel-program/article_9d6f586c-3f0d-11e5-8ad7-93ca53309b06.html


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