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NorthWestern Energy Files Annual Natural Gas Supply-Cost Tracker to Montana Public Service Commission

Jun 01, 2016

Butte, Mont. – June 1, 2016 – NorthWestern Energy has submitted its annual natural gas supply cost tracker to the Montana Public Service Commission for review and approval.

The annual tracking period begins July 1 and ends on the following June 30 of each calendar year. The supply cost rate that appears on customer bills fluctuates on a monthly basis depending on market supply costs and other factors. The annual filing serves to true-up actual vs. estimated costs over the previous period and set the new benchmark for coming tracker year. The rate, when multiplied by the customer’s usage, is included in the total bill along with transportation and delivery costs.

Overall, natural gas supply costs remain very low compared to previous years. The July 2016 rate of approximately $0.24 per therm compares to $0.34 per therm in July 2015 and $0.49 in July 2014.

However, the July 2016 rate will be slightly higher than current June rate of $0.18 per therm. That’s due in part to the extinguishment of customer refunds that had been imbedded in current rates along with a projected slight uptick in market supply costs for the coming year.

NorthWestern’s customers mostly use natural gas as a heating fuel in the winter and use very little in the summer months. However, NorthWestern uses an annualized monthly usage average of 100 therms to determine the potential customer impact of any rate change for typical residential natural gas customers. Based on this annual average, the monthly impact of the July rate compared to the June rate is an increase of $6.82.  Individual impacts will vary depending on actual usage. 

As a reminder, natural gas supply cost rates adjust monthly and have generally declined in recent years in line with market conditions. Natural gas market supply costs are dependent on weather conditions and overall supply and demand factors that are not entirely predictable. Natural gas transportation and delivery costs do not adjust on a monthly basis.

Anyone interested in reviewing the filing in its entirety may do so by accessing it at or by contacting the Montana Public Service Commission either at its office in Helena or at

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About NorthWestern Energy
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 701,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.  More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at

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