NorthWestern Energy encourages Montana customers worried about their ability to pay winter energy bills should reach out
Last updated 3/19/2021 at 11:49am
From NorthWestern Energy
BUTTE — The extreme weather that gripped Montana the first half of February was immediately followed by extreme weather throughout the Midwest and resulted in temperatures that were far below normal.
Record energy demand throughout the Midwest during this time caused natural gas prices to spike. NorthWestern Energy purchased some natural gas for its Montana customers from the market and its customers will see an increase in the cost of the natural gas supply on their bills.
NorthWestern Energy Montana residential and commercial natural gas customers will see the higher cost of the natural gas supply reflected on their bill on the item “Natural Gas Supply.” The increase will be $0.10 per therm in March, about a $10 increase on the average residential bill. Customers will have an additional $0.10 per therm increase in April, and a smaller increase in May.
By July, NorthWestern Energy expects Natural Gas Supply rates to return to more normal levels.
This change is in accordance with NorthWestern Energy’s monthly Natural Gas Tracker, the actual cost of natural gas supply purchases. Customer natural gas supply rates increase or decrease monthly through the Natural Gas Tracker.
The rate to deliver natural gas to Montana customers is unchanged.
The company encourages anyone concerned about their ability to pay a higher energy bill to contact NorthWestern Energy’s customer service department. More information is available, including information about payment arrangements and links to payment assistance programs at http://www.northwesternenergy.com .
Why did the price of natural gas increase?
Natural gas is a commodity purchased from a competitive market. NorthWestern Energy uses historical data and forecasts to purchase natural gas when prices are low, and a large portion of the lower-priced natural gas is placed in storage for use when natural gas prices and demand are higher.
NorthWestern Energy used the previously procured natural gas and storage withdrawals to help meet our Montana customers’ demands during the frigid cold in Montana in February. However, due to extremely high demand in Montana at the time, some additional natural gas purchases for its Montana customers were made Feb. 13-16, when natural gas prices were at unprecedented highs in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions because of the energy emergency in the Midwest, when widespread cold temperatures caused high demand and disrupted natural gas supplies.
NorthWestern Energy also serves electric customers in Montana and customers’ demand for electricity increased in February due to the cold, which will be reflected on bills.