A spokesman for NorthWestern Energy said this morning that a massive power outage caused by an equipment failure at a substation south of Havre has moved the timing of some upgrades scheduled for next spring.
“We’re going to try to do it this week,” said Butch Larcombe of NorthWestern.
The power failure at the Fort Assinniboine substation about six miles out of Havre on U.S. Highway 87 blacked out the entire NorthWestern Havre district for part of Friday morning and Friday afternoon.
Larcombe said the district stretches from Chester to Nashua on the other side of Glasgow, and south to Big Sandy. About 17,000 NorthWestern customers were affected.
The power went out before 10 a.m., with electricity restored within minutes in the eastern part of the district, while power came back sporadically in the other areas, including some parts of Havre seeing power restored before others, with the last customers back on line shortly before 3 p.m.
Hill County Electric communications specialist Denise Kovacich said this morning that most of that cooperative’s customers were not impacted.
The majority of Hill County Electric’s customers get power fed through a part of the substation that did not go out, she said.
About 481 customers in the Chinook area did lose power about 10 a.m., and the cooperative had that service restored by about 1 p.m., Kovacich said.
The power outage comes less than a year after the last major outage, during a massive snowstorm that hit the region March 19.
Larcombe said the exact reason of the failure this time is unknown — simply that some equipment failed.
He said NorthWestern already had scheduled work replacing and upgrading equipment at the substation at Fort Assinniboine, and after the failure Friday the company executives decided to accelerate the work.