Outage Safety

Our emergency line is available 24 hours a day.

Montana: 888-467-2669  |   South Dakota/Nebraska: 800-245-6977   |   In case of a life-threatening emergency, dial 911.

NorthWestern Energy is committed to keeping power outages to a minimum. However, sometimes outages are unavoidable.

During an outage the safety of our employees and our customers is our top priority.

We restore power as soon as it is safe for our crews to do so.

Our Online Outage Map

Get the latest information on our online outage map.

General Electric Outage FAQs

Strong winds, ice and heavy snow can lead to downed power lines. If you see a downed or damaged power line, keep your distance and call 911 immediately.

Never touch a power line or any object, including trees, that is in contact with a line. Remember:

  • Keep people, equipment and objects at least 30 feet away from power lines.
  • Never attempt to remove a fallen tree or branch from a power line. You could be seriously injured or killed.
  • If a tree or branch does come in contact with a power line, keep yourself and others away from the tree and call 911 and NorthWestern Energy immediately.
Your neighbor’s home may be fed by a different service or distribution line. It’s also possible the cause of the outage is

in your home. Be sure to check your fuses or breaker box.

Learn more about what to do during an outage.

Outages occur for many reasons. Here are the most common causes of unplanned outages:

  • System equipment, such as service lines, underground conductor, transformers and insulators.
  • Birds and squirrels.
  • Debris on the pole or in the line.
  • Weather, such as snow, thunderstorms or extreme temperatures.

This can vary greatly depending on the cause of an outage. Sometimes restoring power is as simple as removing a branch that has fallen on a line. Other times, it might require replacing a pole that was hit by a vehicle or blown over in a storm. Sometimes we can switch customers to a different circuit while we make repairs, greatly reducing outage time. If a major storm knocks down numerous poles and takes out several lines, an outage can last hours or even days.

Our top priority is always the safety of our crews and our customers. While restoring power quickly is our goal, our crews take the time required to make repairs safely.

Do not open freezers or refrigerators more than necessary. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.

You can fill empty space in your freezer with perishable items from your refrigerator, which will help keep these items fresh and help your freezer keep it's temperature. You can also fill your freezer with jugs of water or bags of ice.

If the power doesn't come back on after four hours, you may want to consider buying ice and filling a cooler. Move perishable items from your fridge to the cooler. Use a thermometer to make sure the cooler stays below 40 degrees. Add ice as needed.

General Natural Gas Safety FAQs

NorthWestern Energy makes it easy for you to detect natural gas leaks by adding an unpleasant rotten egg or skunk-like smell to natural gas. If you smell this odor:

  1. Get away. Leave the area immediately.
  2. Don't create a spark. Do not use phones, matches, light switches or anything else that could trigger the ignition of the gas.
  3. When at a safe distance, call 911.

Visit Natural Gas Safety to learn more.

  1. Walk around your house and make sure your electric and gas meter are clear of snow and ice. Shovel a path to your meter. This allows us to access it in an emergency situation.
  2. Use a soft broom or a gloved hand to remove snow and ice from your meters. Never use a shovel, pick or flame.
  3. Be sure the regulator on your gas meter is clear of snow and ice. Check to make sure other vents are clear.

Visit Natural Gas Safety to learn more.

Call 911, if you notice any of these signs of a pipeline leak:
• An unusual blowing or hissing sound coming from the ground.
• Dirt or dust blowing from a hole in the ground.
• Bubbling ponds.
• Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area near a pipeline right of way.
• A fire close to a buried pipeline.

Visit Natural Gas Safety to learn more.

After every snow, be sure to clear off your gas meter gently using your hands or a broom. Never use a shovel. Gas meters have a vent that regulates pressure. If snow piles up and covers the vent, it won’t work properly. This could lead to a service interruption or even a gas leak, which could cause a fire or explosion.

Also be sure all appliance exhaust vents are clear from blowing and drifting snow. Blocked appliance vents could result in a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide.

Visit Natural Gas Safety to learn more.

The maintenance of buried gas piping downstream of the gas meter to gas-fired appliances or other structures on the property is the responsibility of the home/property owner or current occupant.

NorthWestern Energy is required to inform customers with privately owned natural gas or propane service lines of their responsibility to inspect and maintain their piping (Code of Federal Regulations 49 CFR 192.16). Customers should have the pipes periodically inspected for leaks, and metallic pipes should also be inspected for corrosion by qualified professionals, such as your local plumber. Any unsafe conditions should be repaired immediately, or the flow of gas should be shut off.

Visit Natural Gas Safety to learn more.