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New Construction FAQs


Why do I have a charge for gas and not electric?
The tariff approved by the Montana Public Service Commission requires that each new gas and electric service will be paid for by the requesting customer.  If you need a transformer installed, or an electric primary or gas main line extension, a credit may be applied to the estimate depending on the type of service required. The local New Construction Office or Project Supervisor can provide more details.

How soon do I have to pay?
All construction costs must be paid prior to scheduling the project for installation. As soon as the job has been designed and the costs have been determined, payment must be made to schedule the project. Also, a Customer Agreement, which will include the cost of the project, must be signed and returned regardless if a payment is required.

Do my electric and gas meter need to be on the same side of the building?
If feasible, we suggest the gas and electric meter be located on the same wall within 10 feet of each other. All meter locations shall be approved by NorthWestern Energy prior to installation.

What other conditions can add to the cost of a project?
The cost estimate to provide electric and gas services are designed to be installed under normal digging conditions. Crossing roads, sidewalks, driveways, or abnormal digging conditions such as rock, frost or inclement weather may have additional costs associated with services or line extension. Some areas have local city or county permit fees that will be added to the cost of the project. In certain instances there may be a cost associated with tapping into a protected line.  If easements are not in place for the installation of our facilities, it is the customer’s responsibility to secure those easements; the Project Supervisor can assist in providing the paperwork.

What is involved in relocating my service?
A Project Supervisor is sent to the site to determine the extent of the work to be done and the costs involved. Payment must be made prior to scheduling the work and a signed Customer Agreement must be returned.

Can I bury my existing overhead line? Is there a charge?
Yes, in most cases an overhead line can be buried. Please contact your local New Construction Office for a price quote. Additional charges may apply for meter base upgrades, electrical permits, travel time, crossing roads, driveway, etc. Each job must be looked at to determine the actual cost and to provide an accurate estimate.

Who do I call for locates?
The One Call Locate number is (800) 424-5555, or you may also dial 811 on any phone to be put in touch with the locating center for your area.

What do you provide for temporary service?
Several types of temporary services are available for residential construction. NorthWestern Energy may be able to provide an express temporary service set on the transformer or secondary pedestal which will provide limited capacity 120V and 240V outlets, express temps have a maximum of 20 amp breakers. The second type of temporary is a metered temporary; which is provided by the customer and connected by NorthWestern Energy. This is a temporary where a meter base is mounted on a treated 6x6 post or pole and set within 5 feet of the transformer. An electrical permit or inspection is needed to connect the metered temp. The third option is the “Early Permanent”, which is a meter base, with outlets, mounted on a 2x10 directly on to the foundation. The meter base must be placed in the permanent location on the foundation.  If the service needs to be moved due to a change in meter base location, then an additional charge will need to be paid prior to moving the “early permanent” service.  Since NorthWestern Energy considers this the permanent service, the gas service is installed at the same time as the electric. There are no additional costs to connect the Early Permanent. Temporary power for Commercial Projects must be discussed with the local Project Supervisor as to the availability of temporary, the costs, and your project requirements. Express Temps are not available for commercial construction.  Please consult the New Service Guide for more information.

Can I schedule my gas turn on?
Gas sets and turn-on may be able to be scheduled; you may want to contact your local New Construction Office to check the availability of scheduling these services.

How far away from an electric line does my building, (sign) need to be?
If the electric line is an overhead line, the building needs to be a minimum 10-foot setback. If the line is underground, a minimum of 5 feet is suggested.  Please contact your local New Construction Office for additional information.

Can I talk to someone locally?
All of the division headquarters are staffed with knowledgeable people to answer any site specific questions that you may have.

Is 3-phase power available in my area?
If you can provide the Township, Range, and Section, we may be able to find your area on our mapping system. If not, we can create a project for you and ask a Project Supervisor to make a site visit to locate the nearest 3-phase power and determine if that service is available and what costs would be associated with extending into the area.

How far from a window (corner, electric meter, etc) does my gas meter need to be located?
Preferably a gas meter should be placed a minimum of 36 inches from a window that opens or an electric meter, and 12 inches from any corner. The gas meter also needs to be set at least 10 feet from any power ventilation or mechanically induced combustion air intake valve. The New Service Guide has specific drawings related to gas and electric meter location.

Can you transfer me to…?
Yes, we would be glad to transfer your call.

Can I arrange to meet someone on site?
Yes, we will make a note on your job notification and ask the Project Supervisor to call and set-up an appointment.

Can I dig my trench?
Under certain circumstances NorthWestern Energy will allow the customer to dig and backfill a trench for electric facilities and will provide specifications for the trench. When a gas line is involved, the customer may be able to dig but not backfill the trench unless the excavator has the appropriate Operator Qualifications. Please refer to the New Service Guide for specific details on customer provided trenches or contact your local New Construction Office for additional information.

Is gas available in my area? What is the cost?
If you give us your address, we will be happy to search our service map. Your Project Supervisor will provide an estimate for your service cost based on the current prices for gas services.  This price may include additional cost for conditions such as rock, frost, asphalt repair or other costs associated with your particular project that are not included in the base prices for gas services.  If extending a gas main is involved, the Project Supervisor will need to determine the cost of the extension.

How much does it cost to run my underground electric service?
The first 100 feet of electric underground service is estimated using a standard base cost which considers the size of underground cable needed. An additional cost per foot is added for the service footages over 100 feet in length. The price may include additional cost for conditions such as rock, frost, asphalt repair or other costs associated with your particular project that are not included in the base prices for underground electric service.  If primary is involved in the installation, a Project Supervisor will need to meet you on site to determine the actual cost of the project.

When is my job scheduled?
You will be provided with the phone number for the Project Supervisor, give them a call, they are familiar with all aspects of the project and should be able to assist you when your job is scheduled for construction. We will not schedule a project unless all necessary funds are collected, easements and permits are acquired, the area to be excavated is at final grade, the Customer Agreement is signed, and all meter equipment is installed and inspected.

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