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NorthWestern Energy building

NorthWestern Energy will conduct a scheduled power outage Saturday, Oct. 13.

At 7 a.m., about 600 customers in central Butte will lose power for up to five hours, the company said in a release. The area extends from Second Street north to Mercury Street and from Dakota Street east to Silver Bow Homes and the Warehouse District.

According to Butte’s NorthWestern Energy community relations manager Paul Babb, the scheduled outage will allow 14 lineman to switch over 200 energy transformers onto newer equipment with higher voltage.

“The switch will improve the power quality in this area,” Babb said.

He also said the work will decrease the potential for unplanned outages.

When there is an outage, planned or unplanned, Babb said people can visit the energy company’s website, where an outage map will inform them of any place in the state without power and how long it will likely take to fix. Babb has also been personally visiting customers in the area to inform them of Saturday’s scheduled outage, on top of automated phone calls. 

One of those affected customers is Butte School District No. 1. They rented a generator for Saturday’s outage time frame to run on the annex side of Butte High, where the network room that provides internet for the whole school district is located.

Babb said that as of Thursday morning, the school district and Town Pump headquarters are the only two affected businesses that rented generators for Saturday, mostly so they don’t have to power down.

According to Jed Hoopes, the district’s facilities, maintenance, and transportation director, a lot of work goes into powering down the network. Without a generator, someone would have to go to every district school to shut off equipment connected to the network then go back to turn it on when power is restored. It’s safer and more efficient to keep the network room connected to power, he said.

A backup generator for the district’s network room is a projected maintenance item, Hoopes said. He hopes to have one within the next two years to better protect the district’s internet technology in any outage situation.

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