- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - NorthWestern Energy says technical issues with meter reading equipment led some customers southeast of Helena to be under-billed in January, leaving the balance to be added to February’s bills.

NorthWestern said it couldn’t read about 2,300 meters in Townsend, Toston, Radersburg and White Sulphur Springs in January, so it billed customers based on estimated usage. The estimates were based on use in January 2016, which was significantly warmer than this year.

February’s bills are based on actual meter readings, so those customers saw large increases.

NorthWestern spokesman Butch Larcombe said the company will try to inform customers when equipment failures affect them in the future.

Customer bills have increased statewide because this winter has been colder than normal.

Anyone concerned about their ability to pay a high energy bill is urged to call NorthWestern Energy.

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