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NorthWestern Energy Prepare For Montana Historic Winter Storm

A party-line vote late in a Montana House committee Friday is advancing the controversial bill that gives NorthWestern Energy incentives to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.
A party-line vote late in a Montana House committee Friday is advancing the controversial bill that gives NorthWestern Energy incentives to buy a larger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip.

The National Weather Service is calling it a historic winter storm, bringing strong winds, heavy, wet and blowing snow and record cold temperatures to much of Montana starting tonight. As residents prepare for this early winter event so is a major utility.

A winter storm at this time of year means there are still leaves on the trees and tree damage is likely. And that means downed power lines.

NorthWestern Energy which serves 374-thousand electric customers in Montana is getting ready for a storm that may linger for days, says spokesperson Jo Dee Black.

"We’re monitoring the forecast. We are working closely with the National Weather Service. We will be geared up and ready to go as long as this event is in our state and impacting our service area," she says.

Black says the utility has been getting their equipment ready, alerting personnel and adjusting staffing at customer service to have more people answering the phones.

"That’s how we keep track of the scope and area of the outages," Black says.

She says you can also report outages online at northwesternenergy.com. Black also reminds customers to keep vents around the home clear of snow.

"You got to make sure your natural gas meters as well as the furnace and appliance vents are free from snow and ice. Blocked events could result in a loss of heat or buildup of carbon monoxide in a home. And sometimes those furnace vents are located on the roof," she says.

NorthWestern Energy’s customer service line is 888-467-2669.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.