Your safety is the number one priority! Make sure you notify authorities immediately in case of an emergency, this includes downed or low hanging power lines.
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog.
Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
Check on your animals and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles. If possible, bring them indoors.
Assessing the situation
Every call helps our crews and operators know how large the outage is to diagnose the potential scale and cause of the outage.
Once the cause and impact of a power outage is diagnosed, our Distribution Dispatch Center calls in crews and dispatches them to repair any damaged equipment and get the power flowing again.
NorthWestern Energy’s Outage Protocols
NorthWestern Energy and other utility companies follow a standard protocol for restoring power quickly and safely:
- Make sure police and fire departments and hospitals have power.
- Check generation facilities to determine if the original power source is still operating.
- Repair transmission lines that carry electricity from the generation stations to substations.
- Repair substations where high-voltage power from the transmission lines is reduced for home usage.
- Repair distribution lines that carry electricity from substations to each neighborhood.
- Repair the tap lines that serve anywhere from 20-300 homes and businesses.
- Reconnect lines to individual customers - this is the most difficult and time-consuming step in the restoration process.
When this process is complete, your home may still be without power. That means there is damage to your home's electrical system and a licensed electrician will be needed to complete the work.
During the entire restoration process, periodic assessments are made to determine facility repair and replacement progress, possible trouble spots and additional resource needs.
During outages, NorthWestern Energy crews and tree crews will work around the clock until power is restored to every customer. At your request, we will call you when your service is restored. If you receive a call, yet are still without power, let us know. Exceptional customer service is our goal.
Let your family know you’re safe – if your community experiences a severe winter storm, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well web site available through www.RedCross.org to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have internet access, call 1-866-438-4637 to register yourself and your family.