Western Montana will be experiencing record heat for an extended period this weekend through the Fourth of July, and Northwestern Energy officials say they're ready for the demands on the power grid.

Spokesman Butch Larcombe said the heat wave will basically just be another day at the office for Northwestern Energy.

"We don't think there's any risk of us not being able to supply electricity to help people run their air conditioners, we're in pretty good shape," Larcombe said. "In parts of Montana, a lot of people don't even have air conditioning, so they're probably just going to be sweating through it, but there's no danger in losing power."

Larcombe addressed the reduced flow in Montana rivers and streams and how it might affect the area's hydroelectric generating capacity.

"There may be some reduced power generation, but that's something we can anticipate ahead of time and make accommodations for and tap mother sources of electric generation, so it's probably not going to be a factor. We do a lot of forecasting and pay a lot of attention to river levels, so we know what our demand is and what we're able to produce. We've been pretty fortunate in getting those two to match up."

The only limitation on the power needed to keep cool is paying the power bill at the end of the month.

photo by Peter Christian