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Montana customers using record amounts of electricity and natural gas to stay warm this winter

Feb 03, 2017

Butte, Mont. – February 3, 2017 – Regardless whether the groundhog saw his or her shadow yesterday, Montana has had its fair share of winter weather this season and it’s reflected in customer bills.

So far, winter in our service territory has been colder than normal – 16 percent colder in December and 26 percent colder than normal in January. This is a wide departure from this time last year when the weather started out average and then turned warmer than average in February. Our natural gas and electricity transmission systems, which provides energy to our customers as well as the customers of other energy providers within and adjacent to our territory has kept up with the high demand.

We set a record for natural gas outflows in December 2016 from our storage fields located at the northern and southern points on our system and set an overall record for on-system deliveries to our customers. That system record was subsequently broken the following month in January with a new system record of 6.7 billion cubic feet of delivered natural gas. Our electric system hit a new peak load of 1808 megawatts in mid-December.

This demand is showing up in customer bills as usage increased significantly due to the prolonged and persistent deep cold. Customers are encouraged to look closely at the comparisons provided on their bill that displays usage patterns for the current billing period compared to the previous billing period and the same time last year. The corresponding average daily temperatures over the periods are provided to highlight the correlation between usage and weather.

Recent media coverage about a change to the property tax rate last month as well as a slight monthly change in the supply rates are not the reasons for the significantly higher energy bills many customers are reporting. The total bill is made of delivery, supply and tax rates multiplied by the amount of energy used as measured by a meter, plus a small service charge that covers billing and metering costs.

Customers are also encouraged to call us right away if they are worried about their ability to pay high winter bills. Options ranging from individual payment installment plans to information on how to access emergency bill assistance through federal, state and non-profit sources are available.

Even though usage has caused bills to increase, the overall cost of natural gas remains quite low compared to previous years and NorthWestern’s overall delivered cost of natural gas is about 33 percent lower than the national average.

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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

Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081

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