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Electric Outage and Cross Country Ski Trail Closure Planned for MacDonald Pass from Feb. 2 through Feb. 20

Jan 30, 2015

Butte, Mont. – Jan. 30, 2015 – NorthWestern Energy has planned electric outages that will affect customers in the MacDonald Pass area, from Highway 12 to the microwave sites. The outages will be sporadic, and occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from February 2nd to February 20th, weather permitting.

The outages are necessary to allow crews to remove hazardous trees along a power line serving the area. For safety reasons, The U.S. Forest Service has determined that recreational areas near the line will be closed to public use while the clearing takes place. Cross-country ski trails in the area will be affected by the closure. The trail closings will occur Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No trail closings are planned for weekends or holidays.

The tree work will take along a roughly two-mile stretch of power line. The area includes a significant number of beetle-killed trees that can fall into the line, disrupting service to customers in the area. The problem has worsened, prompting the decision to undertake the tree work as soon as possible. The line involved in the work also serves the Elliston area, which has experienced a significant number of outages in recent months.

The trail closures are intended to protect individuals from harm during equipment operations and the trimming work. The Forest Service property in the area is used by recreationists year-round, making it difficult to find a time to do the needed work that doesn’t cause a disruption. NorthWestern generally avoids planned tree work in forested areas during warmer months due to potential fire danger. Work during the winter can minimize damage to soils and roads.

NorthWestern has worked to directly notify the owners of communications towers in the area about the sporadic outages. Many, if not all the towers, have back-up generators and should be able to function during the tree work.

NorthWestern apologizes for the inconvenience this planned outage and reliability project will cause for its customers and recreationists.

To keep abreast of outages and other NorthWestern Energy events, follow us on Facebook or on Twitter (@NorthWestern_MT).

To get specific information about trail closures, contact the Helena National Forest at 449-5201.

About NorthWestern Energy
NorthWestern Energy provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serving approximately 678,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.  More information on NorthWestern Energy is available on the company's website at www.northwesternenergy.com.

Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081
butch.larcombe@northwestern.com

Helena National Forest Contact

Heather DeWeese
(406) 495-3924

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