BUTTE — NorthWestern Energy has activated a company-wide plan to address the implications of the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak.
The utility announced on Saturday they would stop disconnections due to nonpayments.
Utility representatives also said in a news release that due to the coronavirus outbreak they are closing customer service centers for walk-ins and are encouraging customers to use their online payment systems.
“NorthWestern Energy is prepared, and we will continue to provide you with reliable, safe energy service as we all work together through this,” said NorthWestern Energy President and CEO Bob Rowe.
“We are working to support all the communities we serve in the collective efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. As stewards of critical infrastructure, providers of energy service and members of the communities we provide that service to, our priority is the health and safety of our employees and customers.”
NorthWestern Energy has implemented a number of protocols:
- NorthWestern Energy Customer Service Centers are temporarily closed and personnel who serve walk-in customers are assigned other duties. All NorthWestern Energy facilities will be closed to the public.
- NorthWestern Energy voluntarily suspended service disconnections for non-payment, effective immediately, to help customers who may be financially impacted as the result of this outbreak. This suspension will apply primarily to residential customers and will remain in effect until further notice.
- As members of our communities self-isolate and work from home, we are ready around the clock to answer questions about your energy service and are here to help if you are having difficulty paying your bill. Montana customers can call 888-467-2669 and South Dakota and Nebraska customers can call 800-245-6977 to speak with a Customer Service Representative.
- NorthWestern Energy is encouraging customers to activate their My Energy Account at northwesternenergy.com to pay bills and manage accounts online. Customers can also make one-time payments at northwesternenergy.com with their 8-digit account number. Click on “Pay My Bill”
- Payment drop boxes are available outside NorthWestern Energy Customer Service Centers. However the centers are closed to walk-in traffic.
- NorthWestern Energy employees who have traveled to areas impacted by coronavirus cases are notifying their supervisors. Employees are notifying supervisors of all personal travel plans. Travel restrictions have been implemented.
- Access to all NorthWestern Energy critical facilities will be restricted to essential employees only.
- NorthWestern Energy is using technology for meetings and cancelling assemblies.
- NorthWestern Energy is splitting works groups, instituting work from home practices and assigning separate shifts to prevent spreading any virus or other communicable disease through the entire group in the event of an exposure.
NorthWestern Energy states they are in "direct and continuous contact" with local health officials, and state emergency task forces in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.