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Energy providers say they're ready for record demand during this week's cold snap

NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks
NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.

Montana energy providers say they are ready for this week’s anticipated historic cold snap. They’re simultaneously urging customers to prepare for the possibility of unforeseen power outages.

Demand for energy will likely be through the roof most of this week.

"We do expect that there will be record peak loads for both electric and natural gas in Montana during this event," says NorthWestern Energy spokesperson Jo Dee Black.

Black says NorthWestern’s hydro and natural gas-fired generation facilities, along with the Colstrip power plant are currently providing the bulk of Montanans’ energy needs. Until wind generation picks back up, likely later this week, Montana’s largest electricity utility is buying energy from the open market to fill in the gap.

NorthWestern and other regional energy providers, including Flathead Electric Cooperative say they’re confident in their ability to keep lights and furnaces powered up through this extreme weather event. Still, they caution that power outages are always possible. They say while line crews are ready to dispatch to make repairs, Montanans are urged to prepare for such unforeseen circumstances with flashlights, bottled water and emergency food supplies.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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