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Despite U.S. Natural-Gas Price Spikes, NorthWestern's Montana Customers Should Benefit From Stable Prices and Reliable Delivery This Winter

Nov 20, 2018

Butte, Mont. – Nov. 20, 2018 – Natural gas prices have increased significantly across the country in recent days, sparking concern about possible unusually high winter heating bills for utility customers.

But Montana customers of NorthWestern Energy have less reason for concern because of the company’s proactive purchase and storage of relatively cheap natural gas, a pipeline that provides access to a key natural-gas market in western Canada, and the fact that NorthWestern owns gas wells dedicated to serving its Montana customers.

As a result, NorthWestern customers have far less exposure to the recent volatility in the natural gas market than customers in some parts of the U.S.

“This year, our gas supply team purchased gas early in the year, when prices were low, and filled our storage to provide customers with adequate supply and stable prices this winter,” said Bob Rowe, NorthWestern’s CEO. “We’ve invested in our gas transmission and storage system to ensure we are able to meet customers’ winter needs. We use our supply and transmission and storage system, along with market purchases, to protect our customers as much as possible from both supply scarcity and price spikes.”

In the summer of 2018, NorthWestern purchased about 9 billion cubic feet of natural gas and stored it in facilities near Cut Bank and Havre and in the Dry Creek area in southeast Montana. The weighted average cost of those purchases was about 88 cents per dekatherm. The national market price for natural gas this week is in the $4.75 per dekatherm range.

NorthWestern owns and operates a natural gas pipeline that runs into Alberta, providing a valuable link to the Canadian gas market. Due to market conditions north of the border, the price of gas purchased there is well below that found in many parts of the U.S.

In recent years NorthWestern has invested significantly in its natural gas storage and transmission. Specifically related to access to the key Canadian market and assuring deliverability to our customers, NorthWestern recently completed the Meriwether Compressor Station east of Browning with a total investment of $11.6 million

A system of wells owned by NorthWestern in the Havre area provides a fixed-price supply of natural gas that also contributes to bill stability for Montana customers.

As a result of all these factors, NorthWestern Energy customers in Montana are experiencing near record-low natural gas prices. A typical November residential gas bill for a Montana customer is expected to be about $71.44, more than 9 percent less than the November 2017 bill of $78.50.

A steady trend of lower gas supply prices has been a good-news story for Montana customers for a number of years. A typical bill in November 2013 was $81.96, while ten years ago, the typical November bill was $117.24, nearly $46 higher than the current typical bill.

About 190,000 homes and businesses in 117 Montana communities are directly served by NorthWestern natural gas.

While natural gas continues to provide affordable and reliable heat for Montanans, colder temperatures produce higher winter bills for all NorthWestern customers. Taking common-sense steps to reduce gas and electric consumption, including weatherization and seeking free NorthWestern energy audits, can help customers better manage winter heating costs.

For more information on ways to conserve energy, or to learn how to enroll in programs that help low-income Montanans with energy costs, contact NorthWestern at (888) 467-2669.


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

About NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE)
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 718,300 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.


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