NorthWestern Energy and Action Inc. are hosting a community open house from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, to offer southwest Montana residents assistance and information to help deal with energy bills.

The open house will be held in the community room of the NorthWestern Energy Butte Division office at 400 Oxford St. Along with valuable help and information, refreshments will be available. The open house is intended to assist residents in a six-county area that includes Butte-Silver Bow, Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Powell, Granite, Beaverhead, and Madison counties.

Volunteers from Action Inc. and NorthWestern will be on hand to provide information about the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) and Energy Share of Montana and help with understanding energy bills, budget billing, free home energy audits, and home weatherization.

Helping area residents complete an application for the LIEAP program will be a focus of the open house. Applicants found to be eligible can get payment assistance within 45 days. Renters and homeowners can qualify for LIEAP assistance.

LIEAP-eligible participants automatically qualify for significant year-round discounts on NorthWestern Energy electric and natural gas bills. During the winter heating season, the discounts for eligible participants are 25 percent on electric bills and 30 percent on natural gas bills. While the natural gas discount is applied from November through April, a 15 percent electric bill discount continues between May and October.