Northwestern Energy Braces for Peak Power Demand in Montana Cold
Managers of Montana's largest utility say they're ready for this week's extreme cold, although they expect the near-record temperatures to cause peak demand on the grid.
And they're hoping their customers will take precautions as well, such as having their "outage kits" ready to go.
Like other power providers and public and private utilities, Northwestern has spent the past several days preparing for this severe cold, which is expected to create peak demand for electricity across the region.
Spokeswoman Jo Dee Black tells me that could lead to some outages, so the utility is advising customers to also review their own preparations.
Check your outage kit
"Types of things like flashlights, batteries for flashlights, bottled water, medication, pet food. If you have a battery bank for your phone, make sure that's charged just in case there is an outage," Black advises.
And with high winds in the forecast, Black reminds everyone to stay away from any downed transmission lines and report all problems they see.
"As that cold air moves out, there is a forecast of wind. And with wind often we will see outages caused by things like. tree limbs, or other debris in power lines. If you see a power line that is hanging, damaged, or on the ground, it's very important to stay clear of that power line and keep everybody else away from it. Don't touch anything that's in contact with that line and let us know right away."
Tech helps manage high power demand
While this storm is on par with historic Montana storms, I asked Black if there wasn't an advantage now with the advanced technology for managing peak demands and monitoring outages.
"We invest in and deploy technology that enhances our reliability and that shows that we have a very resilient, well-maintained system that has appropriate levels of investment and utilizes technology," Black explains. "So that when these severe extreme weather conditions happen in our state that we are able to continue to provide power reliably and safely."
Check power outages here: Northwestern Energy Outage Map
Read more: Near record cold still expected Thursday