Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

About Arcadia Power’s mailing to all FEC customers

Monday, February 15th, 2016

By Catherine Haug, February 15, 2016

If you get your electricity from Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC), you likely received an offer from Arcadia Power in the mail, to ‘join your neighbors in Montana’s first Community Wind Program.’ As with so many things, the truth is in the ‘fine print.’

Below are the specific questions about this mailing and service that I sent to Don Newton at FEC, and a summary of his response to each. Also included are green energy programs and energy-efficiency rebates that are offered by FEC. (more…)

CFL and LED bulbs: how to dispose/recycle them

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015
Incandescent, CFL and LED hanging bulbs

Incandescent, CFL and LED hanging bulbs

By Catherine Haug, Oct 21, 2015 (Photo, right, from Recycle Nation (4))

We’ve all been encouraged to use CFL(compact fluorescent light) bulbs because they save on energy consumption. But CFLs contain mercury, the most toxic substance known to man, which means you should not put them in your trash. Also, you cannot put them with your regular recyclables, so what do you do when they burn out?

Is there a better alternative?

FEC’s Community Solar Array Project

Monday, August 10th, 2015

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. (more…)

Trees make a big difference in home heating/cooling costs

Monday, May 4th, 2015
Willow shade trees, Bayside Cabins in Bigfork

Willow shade trees, Bayside Cabins in Bigfork

By Catherine Haug, May, 2015, in honor of Arbor Day (Photo, right, by C. Haug)

Here in the green Flathead, we perhaps take our trees for granted, and forget that they provide many other benefits besides beauty. Here’s just a short list:

  • Shade;
  • Windbreak;
  • Carbon sink (store carbon in the ground rather than as particulates and CO2 in the air);
  • Ground water filter;
  • Erosion prevention;
  • Food (as fruit, nuts); and
  • Medicine.

Trees for shade and windbreaks is the topic of this posting. (more…)

Preparing for Disaster or Prolonged Power Outage

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Cat’s note, Feb 2, 2015:

The following article is by one of our members in Columbia Falls. You may remember our video slideshow about repurposing (see Gathering Summary: Repurposing & Other Innovations, September 21, 2011), and the segment on using cob to build an outdoor sauna and other projects; those photos and text were his. I want to thank him for this wonderful article. See Preparing for Prolonged Power Outage for a printable pdf of this entire article.

Topics include:

  1. One man’s experience and learnings during super-storm Sandy;
  2. Lessons learned;
  3. Author’s notes;
  4. Sizing the generator;
  5. Setting up the generator;
  6. How to run your furnace, boiler or other heating units and stoves without grid-power.


Take the quiz: The Fracking Truth

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

by Catherine Haug, May 16, 2012

Right now, many members of our community are working in the Bakken oil fields, the latest fracking mecca, because of the shortage of good paying jobs here in the Flathead. And many public officials are touting the job-creation benefits of fracking large oil-shale deposits like the Bakken. But are these lasting jobs? Or will the Bakken eventually be another series of ghost towns?

The same public officials also project that tapping huge oil and gas deposits in the Bakken will make us independent of foreign oil, and bring the price of fuel down. Is this true? Will the US be the prime beneficiary of Bakken oil? Will we get lower prices at the pump?

How is the tremendous influx of workers impacting the local communities? Was the murder of the Sydney teacher Sherry Arnold an isolated incident? Or is there huge potential for more?

Take the quiz: You don’t know frack and see how well you do. Only 10 multiple choice questions. (Note: not all the questions I ask above are included in the quiz, but they are discussed later in this article). Read on, for more. (more…)