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Montana News

Energy Demand, Cost Increase During Heatwave

High temperatures in the 90s to 110s begin in earnest (and low temps in the 50s and 60s) on Monday and will exist through at least July 4th across the entire Northern Rockies.
National Weather Service
High temperatures in the 90s to 110s begin in earnest (and low temps in the 50s and 60s) on Monday and will exist through at least July 4th across the entire Northern Rockies.

Weather forecasters are sticking to their predictions of ferocious heat reaching well past the 100-degree mark this week. 

Demand for power to run fans and air conditioners is already spiking, and that energy usage will eventually be reflected in power bills. 

NorthWestern Energy’s website features a near real-time chart showing, among other things, how much electricity the company anticipates it will need to meet customer demand. 

That demand is steadily growing. By late Monday afternoon it reached 1,083 megawatts in Montana, besting last week’s high of 982 megawatts — and the worst of the heat is a couple of days out.

“We’re very closely watching this heatwave,” NorthWestern spokesperson Jo Dee Black says. 

Black says the company is actively purchasing energy on the open market to meet what’s expected to be sky-high customer demand across the west through the Fourth of July weekend.

“Typically this time of year we would expect to pay more in the range of $40 to $50 per megawatt for energy on the market. Right now, it looks like those prices are closer to $146 per megawatt,” Black says. 

How those higher prices will eventually be reflected on consumer bills is speculative at this point. 

NorthWestern encourages customers to actively conserve energy: Close curtains to block hot sunlight, turn off unnecessary lights and appliances — even cook outside when possible to keep the home a little cooler.

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