Montana Meter Upgrade

NorthWestern Energy Meter Project

A contractor with NorthWestern Energy changes out a meter.

NorthWestern Energy Meter Project

Watch a video to learn about the benefits of our new meters and what to expect when your meter is changed out.

NorthWestern Energy will install 590,000 new electric meters and gas modules in Montana.

  • This technology upgrade will allow two-way communication between NorthWestern Energy and its meters on customer homes and businesses.
  • In most cases, the system will notify NorthWestern Energy of an outage. 
  • Crews can restore service faster.
  • Current energy use information is available for customer questions about bills, energy use and opportunities for energy savings
  • System voltage information identifies problems before those problems cause outages.
The energy landscape is changing — and so are our customers’ expectations. As we modernize the energy grid, including using two-way communicating meters, also known as smart meters, our customers will benefit.

Moving Toward a Sustainable Energy Future

Moving Toward a Sustainable Energy Future

The energy grid is evolving, driven by the need to support more renewable resources as we transition to an even cleaner energy future. Smart metering provides more data on grid operations, which will allow opportunities for new customer programs and technology that will help balance the energy grid with renewable resources.

What can I expect when my meter is changed?

A technician  leaves a door hangar after changing a meter.

What can I expect when my meter is changed?

Watch this video to learn more about our meter change out process.

Advanced Meter FAQs

NorthWestern Energy is bypassing customers who do not want an upgraded meter. NorthWestern Energy Montana customers will have the right to opt-out of the use of advanced metering devices and may be required to pay a tariff charge, once the tariff is approved by the Montana Public Service Commission. NorthWestern Energy's application for the opt-out tariff is available HERE and at psc.mt.gov, Docket 2022.06.067.

For more information, call NorthWestern Energy at 1-800-486-4280 or the Montana Public Service Commission at 1-800-646-6150. 

Montana law allows customers to opt-out of the use of advanced metering devices according to terms and conditions set by the Montana Public Service Commission. No utility company can require the use of an advance metering device. If you have questions about your opt-out rights, please contact the Montana Public Service Commission at 1-800-646-6150.

NorthWestern Energy will begin installation in Montana in 2021. It is a four-year project.

Here is a list of approximate dates for the Montana meter upgrade project by area.

  • Missoula Area – in progress, ending August 2022
  • Butte Area– in progress, ending May 2022
  • Bozeman Area – June 2022 – December 2023
  • Billings Area - October 2022 – October 2023
  • Havre Area – March 2023 – September 2023
  • Helena Area – June 2023 – May 2024
  • Great Falls Area – Sept 2023 – June 2024
  • Lewistown Area – January 2024 – June 2024

Missoula area: April 2021-August 2022 Approximate start dates in area:

  • April 2021: Missoula proper
  • June 2021: Florence, Lolo, Stevensville
  • July 2021: Victor
  • August 2021: Alberton, Huson
  • September 2021: Bonner, Milltown
  • November 2021: Turah, Clinton
  • March 2022: Hamilton, Corvallis, Grantdale
  • April 2022: Superior
  • May 2022: Plains, Darby, St. Regis, De Borgia, Haugan, Saltese, Taft
  • June 2022: Thompson Falls, Paradise

Butte area: July 2021-May 2022 Approximate start dates in area:

  • July 2021: Butte, Whitehall
  • August 2021: Anaconda, Deer Lodge, Divide
  • September 2021: Garrison, Nevada City, Philipsburg, Virginia City,
  • October 2021: Maxville, Hall, Walkerville
  • November 2021: Sheridan, Twin Bridges
  • December 2021: Alder, Drummond
  • January 2022: Dillon, Gold Creek, Ramsay, Rocker, Silverbow, Williamsburg
NorthWestern Energy and our partner installation company, Tru-Check, are following CDC guidelines, including social distancing and wearing a mask while interacting with our customers. Safety of our employees, our partner employees
and our customers is the top priority.

NorthWestern Energy contracted with Tru-Check to install the new digital meters, the same company that installed the first generation, one-way communication digital meters in 1998 that are in use today.

Tru-Check technicians will wear apparel with the Tru-Check logo and will carry a NorthWestern Energy contractor identification badge.

NorthWestern Energy has a contract to recycle the electric meters and gas modules in use now when new meters and modules are installed.

Yes. Customer privacy and security are NorthWestern Energy priorities. The company’s strict security standards have contributed to protecting the energy grid and customer privacy for years. The meters do not collect, store or transmit any personally identifiable information.

The meters measure total energy and cannot differentiate energy usage by appliance or anything else within a home or business. The transmitted energy use information is encrypted.

Yes. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the safety limits for all RF emissions, and smart meter and module emissions make up a small portion of the limit. The RF emissions of the one-way communication meters in use now and the two-way communication meters that are being installed for this technology upgrade are both approved by the FCC. Radio frequency emissions are also produced by common household devices such as microwaves, baby monitors and TVs.

Most of the installations will occur Monday through Friday during business hours, though there will be cases when evening or weekend installations may be necessary. Customers don't need to be home.

A door hanger will let residents know their upgrade was successful. If the technician cannot perform the upgrade, a door hanger will be left with instructions to call to make an appointment.

If you are both an electric and natural gas NorthWestern Energy customer, the new electric meter will be installed first and the new gas module will be installed during a follow-up visit to your home or business within the following eight weeks.

No. The electric meters and gas modules are purchased and owned by NorthWestern Energy. They are part of our infrastructure, similar to our power poles and transformers.