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NorthWestern Discusses Impact of Flooding and High Water in Great Falls Area; Urges Caution Near Rivers and Dams

Jun 21, 2018

Butte, Mont. – June 21, 2018 – NorthWestern Energy utility and hydroelectric crews are carefully monitoring flooding and high-water conditions in northcentral Montana and along the Missouri River.

So far, issues with electric and natural gas service have been isolated. As of Thursday morning, about 40 natural gas meters had been shut-off due to high water in the Augusta, Simms, Fort Shaw and Sun River areas west of Great Falls. The shutoffs are intended to avoid safety issues with meters damaged by high water. All the meters will be inspected before they are turned back on. Crews will also work with customers to re-light pilot lights on natural-gas fueled appliances.

To date, there have been no reports of damage to power poles or the electrical grid in the Great Falls area.

Operators at the five NorthWestern Energy hydroelectric dams continue to see very high flows on the Missouri River near Great Falls. Early Thursday, flows reached nearly 40,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Black Eagle Dam, the most upstream of the five dams near Great Falls. Those flows are similar to those experienced in 2011. In 1975, flows at the Great Falls dams reached 60,200 cfs.

We are urging the public to stay away from the area above and below the dams. It is simply not safe to recreate near the dams at this point, due to high flows and possible future water releases.

Due to the high flows and large amount of debris in the river, NorthWestern crews Wednesday evening removed steel spillway beams to open three bays at Black Eagle. The move was intended to allow more water and debris to pass through the dam. Large amounts of debris can hinder dam operations.

The move to spill more water and debris at Black Eagle is not expected to have significant impact on the operations of the four NorthWestern dams below Black Eagle.

The spillway beams and boards that were released will need to be replaced after the high flows subside. This will result in noticeably lower water levels in the reservoir above Black Eagle Dam. The timing of this drawdown will be tied to future flows and we cannot provide an accurate time frame for that drawdown at this point.

We are monitoring river flows very carefully. We have full confidence in the ability of our dams and experienced crews to deal with the high flows and debris that comes with those flows.

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About NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE)
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 709,600 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.  



Media Contact:     
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081
butch.larcombe@northwestern.com

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