(HELENA) NorthWestern Energy reports it saw a major surge in demand in Montana during the bitterly cold month of February.
The utility says the state’s temperatures in February were 35 percent colder than the 15-year average.
Public relations specialist Jo Dee Black said, on Feb. 5, NorthWestern experienced a new “peak balancing load” — the amount of power needed to reliably meet demand — in its electrical transmission system. The previous record had been set in August 2018, when hot weather led to air conditioner use.
More specific usage data will not be available for several more weeks.
The utility also carried almost an additional 1 billion cubic feet of gas for its customers in February 2019, compared with February 2018.
Black said NorthWestern was proud of the reliability of its service during the coldest period, which she credited to improvements the utility has made to its distribution system. But she acknowledged the weather and high utility bills will present a challenge for many customers.
“We know that this is going to put a strain on people’s budget,” Black said.
She encouraged anyone concerned about their bill to contact NorthWestern’s Montana customer service line at (888) 467-2669 for information on payment options and other supports for people who may need assistance.