Bob Glanzer Generating Station
Billings, Mont. – March 27, 2023 – Carbon County residents met the strong spring storm over the weekend with their typical strong community spirit.
The storm that dumped snow across southern Montana caused ice buildup on power lines across Carbon County Friday evening. Snow that followed then stuck to that ice, pulling down more than 50 spans of power lines, breaking 13 power poles, damaging others and causing power outages throughout the area.
NorthWestern Energy crews responded just after midnight and worked through the night to assess the situation, begin repairs and respond as new outage reports came in. Customers in Joliet, population 577, were out of power until Saturday evening. Some rural customers waited until Sunday afternoon to have power restored.
“From the people who rolled down their vehicle windows to offer encouragement and thanks, to others who came out of their homes to offer our crews something to drink, to the farmers and ranchers who brought their equipment to pull our equipment out of the mud, we thank you for your support,” said NorthWestern Energy Billings Division Supervisor Gas & Electric Operations Kirk Gordon.
The weekend snow fell on muddy roads and fields, thawed by warmer spring temperatures.
“Our equipment got stuck several times,” Gordon said. “Locals brought their equipment to help us out so that we could continue to make repairs.”
NorthWestern Energy had 19 crew members working along with a contract crew with another four members.
“I’m not surprised by the support and the help isn’t abnormal, it’s neighbor helping neighbor here,” said NorthWestern Energy Town Manager Cole Mettes. “But this was on a much bigger level than normal. Some saw our crews stuck and stopped to help and other came when I called them. Because of their help, we didn’t have to wait for equipment to be brought from Billings.”
When more than 17 NorthWestern Energy crew members were at breakfast at the Fort Rockvale Sunday morning, local resident John Davidson insisted on picking up their tab.
“And at the time his place was still out of power,” said Gordon.
Sunday night’s dinner for seven at the Edgar Bar, which has stayed open late and brought in staff outside of their operating hours to feed NorthWestern Energy crews in the past, was on the house.
Monday, NorthWestern Energy customer service associates passed along messages to the crews called in by customers.
“Shirley from Joliet wanted to thank everyone who had a hand in getting services stored for them, despite the terrible weather. She and her family are very grateful and want to thank NorthWestern Energy for always providing great service.”
“Mud up to their knees and snow up to their waists, they were able to power through and get my power restored. I just want to share how appreciative I am for all of their hard work in such miserable conditions. Robert from Joliet.”
The encouragement, assistance and support is a boost, said Mettes, who will mark his sixth year as town manager for the area this summer.
“I am glad this is the community I am in,” he said.
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About NorthWestern Energy (Nasdaq: NWE)
NorthWestern Corporation, doing business as NorthWestern Energy, provides essential energy infrastructure and valuable services that enrich lives and empower communities while serving as long-term partners to our customers and communities. We are working to deliver safe, reliable, and innovative energy solutions that create value for customers, communities, employees, and investors. This includes bridging our history as a regulated utility safely providing low-cost and reliable service with our future as a globally-aware company offering a broader array of services performed by highly-adaptable and skilled employees. We provide electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 764,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Yellowstone National Park. We have provided service in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and in Montana since 2002. More information is available on the company's Web site at www.northwesternenergy.com.
Jo Dee Black