NorthWestern Energy has restored power to the last Missoula neighborhood left in the dark by Monday's windstorm.

"We got the Linda Vista-area people back on between midnight and 1 (a.m.) last night," spokesman Butch Larcombe said Friday morning.

Several households scattered around the city still didn't have power, he said. Those incidents could be related to equipment on the houses, or fallen trees or branches.

Crews continued working on the isolated outages Friday, and Larcombe urged customers to call NorthWestern at 1-888-467-2669 for service.

Monday's storm, with winds of up to 74 miles per hour, knocked down trees across the area, initially leaving 18,000 people without electricity.

It knocked down high-voltage transmission poles in the Linda Vista area. New poles were brought in from Butte and from the manufacturer in Canada.

Extensive planning and engineering work was required to install the 13 poles and about a third-mile of 100-kilovolt transmission line.

Larcombe couldn't recall an extended blackout like this one in western Montana.

"The duration of this one has been pretty unusual," Larcombe said.

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Bob Rowe, CEO of NorthWestern, said Friday that this week’s storm brought out the best in his company.

“If I have a frustration it’s when we all get too focused on public policy rather than on the basics of providing people safe, reliable, adequate service. This unbelievable storm rolling into Missoula brought everybody’s attention back to some real basics. ... Our manager in Missoula said it was the worst wind event he’d ever seen.”

He said cooperation between “all the first responders, public officials, NGOs and NorthWestern Energy was first rate.”

“Within NorthWestern,” he said, “everyone in the Missoula Division stepped up worked pretty much around the clock. That was linemen, engineers and the people managing the stream of parts and equipment. But it was also crews that deployed from Butte, Great Falls, Bozeman and Helena ... and folks in the customer care center in Butte, backed up by the customer care center in Huron, South Dakota – everybody just pitching in. It was just an extraordinary response.”

Rowe thanked customers for their patience.

“Obviously, when people are without power for a couple of days, they get a little grumpy, but for the most part people were just great,” he said. “I was stunned at how positive people have been. They were so appreciative. They thanked our crews when they saw them out working in the middle of the night.”


David McCumber of the Montana Standard contributed to this story.

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