Frequently Asked Questions

Getting The Meter Readings

One of our meter reading staff visits every address each month to read the meter. They normally get a meter reading, but when they are unable to access the meter, they will leave a meter reading card. The card has blank dials to draw meter hands and boxes to enter digital reading numbers which you may use to call in reading. Customer Service

You can help us serve you better by assuring that gates and doors are in good repair. If the meter is in a location where the meter reader will be unable to read it, call us and we will make special arrangements so you will receive accurate bills.

To avoid billing delays, call us at 406-873-5531 with your meter reading at any time of the day or night. Your gas account will bill the day after the meter reader visits your address. Call us on the same date, the date will be marked on the card. You may also call in your reading ahead of the reader's visit if the meter is difficult to access. 

Many customers have dogs or other pets at large in the same fenced area where the gas meter is located. Please let us know about your pet so the meter reader can watch for it and avoid any confrontation with a pet who is guarding your property.

When an animal is either aggressive or unusually fearful, we can make special arrangements for getting regular meter readings.

Estimated Readings

If your bill was estimated, the words “Estimated Reading” will be shown on the billing. Estimated readings are self correcting. If your usage has been estimated, over or under, when an actual reading is obtained your bill will automatically correct; you pay only for gas you actually used.

Your bill is calculated by subtracting your previous meter reading from the current meter reading. The difference is multiplied by the rate, a base charge is added and the total is your gas bill for that month

Basic charge. This charge pays for operation expenses not related to volume sales. For example, in Great Falls construction and maintenance of approximately 400 miles of underground distribution system, maintenance of 26,000 yard lines and meters at the customer's site, 24-hour emergency service, plus the monthly costs of meter reading, calculating, printing and mailing the bills.

Current gas delivery. These charges are based on volume delivery. They include the expenses associated with transporting natural gas to Great Falls from the gas wells, such as reserving space in the transmission pipelines and paying a shipping charge to the owners of the pipeline. The delivery charges also include the portion of the operations and maintenance charges not paid by the basic charge.

Current gas supply charges. The supply charges are the cost of the actual natural gas used by your gas equipment. If you have chosen a gas supplier other than the utility, these charges may appear on your supplier bill. Otherwise the gas supply is furnished by the utility and appears on this bill.

Your meter will be read once a month and the charges for your bill calculated once each month. You will receive your bill at approximately the same time each month.

Below are some ideas of how you can save energy and help decrease your energy bill.

  • Get your furnace checked. Contact your local heating contractor to schedule a home heating system inspection. Change your furnace filter monthly
  • Turn down the heat. Set thermostats between 65 and 70 degrees during the winter. Lower the thermostat when sleeping or away from home for more than a few hours. (Warmer temperatures are recommenced for homes with infants, ill or elderly persons.) Invest in a programmable thermostat. It can automatically lower and raise your home's temperature.
  • Consider a gas fireplace. If you have a room that is hard to heat, consider purchasing a gas fireplace or space heater.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater. You can save more than 10% on your water-heating bill by turning down your water heater just ten degrees - from the 140 degrees to 130 degrees.
  • Install flow-restricting showerheads. You can reduce hot water usage by up to 50% without affecting shower pressure.
  • Repair leaky faucets. A leak that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes wastes 3,200 gallons of water a year.
  • Look for the blue flame. Be sure that all burners have a blue, cone-shaped flame. A yellow flame indicates clogged air inlets or burners that need adjustment. Contact our service department immediately if you don't see a blue flame. 791-7536 or 791-7500
  • Check the seal on your oven door. Gaps or tears in the seal will let heat escape and waste energy.
  • Don't over dry your clothes. Use the auto-dry feature on your gas dryer, if you have it or keep a close eye on the machine.
  • Run full loads. Be sure that dishwashers, washing machines and clothes dryers are fully loaded before running.
  • Compare energy-efficiency ratings and annual operating costs. When buying new appliances, a slightly higher initial cost for a high-efficiency appliance could pay itself back in a very short time through energy savings and lower utility bills.
  • Cover your windows. Use drapes or shutters to reduce drafts and radiant heat loss. Open coverings on south facing windows during the day to let sunlight in.
  • Check your insulation. Find out if you have the recommended level of insulation in your attic and basement (or crawl space).
  • Consider storm or double-pane windows and doors. A less expensive alternative is plastic sheeting, which can be temporarily fastened over doors and windows to retain heat.

A degree day is a measure of the coldness of the weather. To determine the number of degree days in a single day, we take the average temperature and subtract it from 65 degrees. Most people start heating their homes when the temperature falls below 65.

For example, if the high is 10 above and the low is 4 above on a certain day, the average temperature is 7 degrees (10 + 4 = 14/2 = 7). To get degree days, subtract 7 from 65 to get 58 degree days. (65 - 7 = 58).

 

If you are having trouble paying all or part of your bill, please let us know. Our Company policy clearly states that we will do our best to work out bill payment arrangements. But we cannot make arrangements unless you call to let us know you are having difficulties. We welcome your call to our customer service representative at 406-873-5531.

Bills more than 30 days past due are subject to termination of service with a reconnect charge. We don't want to shut your gas service off, so please call us and make arrangements to pay your bill if it is past due.

Financial assistance in paying your utility bill is available through the Federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) at the addresses in Great Falls listed below:

Opportunities Inc.

905 1 Avenue North, Great Falls MT 59401

(406) 761-0310

Energy Share assistance is available at the same office and can often help those who do not qualify for needed assistance under the low income program.

Energy Share of Montana is a private, non-profit fuel fund supported through cooperation of utilities in the state and funded through voluntary donations from utility customers, the utilities and from others.

Service Line Installation - To arrange for construction of the service line from the main gas line in the street to the building, call Customer Service at 406-873-5531.

What is Underground Location?

In Montana, all utilities can be notified of your intention to excavate through one simple call to the Montana Utility Coordinating Council. Call the number (1-800-424-5555) two working days before you dig. There is no charge to you for this service. Each utility will mark the ground where their underground installations are located. You will be asked for the following information:

  • County, City, Street Address
  • Type of Work, Extent of Work
  • Name of Caller, Title, Telephone number
  • Best time to call
  • Start Date, Start Time
  • Contractor, Contractor Address or Contractor Number

Costly and time consuming repairs can result from utility lines damaged during an excavation. You and your neighbors may be without utility service or faced with a hazardous situation until repairs can be made.

Why do I need to Call?

Sometimes people feel this call isn't necessary since they're planning only minor digging projects such as setting a few fence posts or deep digging a garden. Over time, the freezing and thawing process can affect the depth of underground installations and the only way you can be assured of digging with complete safety is to call for a location. Even after you call and have the utility line located and marked, any digging around that line should be done by hand very carefully.

How safe is Natural Gas?The entire underground distribution network, from the main to the appliances, is built and installed with you in mind. There is no question of its safety as shown by the natural gas safety record. However, it is possible through misuse or accident to occasionally have a gas leak.

For your protection, to alert you if a gas leak should occur, a harmless chemical is added to gas to give it a distinctive odor. If you ever smell this odor, follow your nose to the source. It could be as simple as a range burner partially on or other minor, easily corrected problem.

* If you can't find the source or if the odor is present in several rooms of your home, leave immediately and make sure everyone in the home is outside. Then call our Emergency Service number from a nearby address.

* To check for leaks, our emergency service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge.

 

 

For Your Safety

For your safety and convenience, be sure your new gas appliances are installed by licensed gas fitters or licensed plumbers. Areas outside the Great Falls city limit must comply with National Fuel Gas Codes and Montana State regulation.

 

The entire underground distribution network, from the main to the appliances, is built and installed with you in mind. There is no question of its safety as shown by the natural gas safety record. However, it is possible through misuse or accident to occasionally have a gas leak.

For your protection, to alert you if a gas leak should occur, a harmless chemical is added to gas to give it a distinctive odor. If you ever smell this odor, follow your nose to the source. It could be as simple as a range burner partially on or other minor, easily corrected problem.

  • If you can't find the source or if the odor is present in several rooms of your home, leave immediately and make sure everyone in the home is outside. Then call our Emergency Service number from a nearby address.
  • To check for leaks, our emergency service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge.

Emergency Service Numbers:

Cut Bank Gas Company - 406-873-5531

Gas Appliances Gas appliances are your best buy for today and into the future. A wide selection of high efficiency gas equipment offers an answer for every need. Whether you need space heating, cooking or another type of appliance, new and innovative designs are available in all appliance types:

  • freestanding fireplace or fireplace insert
  • gas furnace
  • gas water heater
  • range
  • clothes dryer
  • space heater
  • garage heater
  • barbecue grill
  • gas yard light

You will find a variety of options at your local dealers.

Gas Space Heating

Natural gas and propane are your most economical energy options. You will save appreciably with gas space heating. Gas furnaces are now available up to 96 percent efficient. There is a wide range of space heaters available which allow you to install warmth wherever it is desirable.

New generation gas space heaters are available with direct vents, a development which eases installation and reduces costs, making them ideal for retrofit in homes and for additional heat source in additions. Free standing and fireplace inserts make an attractive and stylish addition to a home and many are high efficiency so they can function as the sole heat source. Call your heating contractor or your local dealer for more information.

Gas Water Heating

Gas water heaters heat water faster than electricity and come in a wide range of sizes. Heating water is the second largest user of energy in homes. Your local plumber has more information.

Gas for Cooking

Gourmet chefs prefer cooking with gas because of temperature control and smokeless broiling it offers. New gas cooking equipment is pilotless so you use gas only when you are cooking. Gas cooking saves about a third over electricity; one of the reasons it's used by most restaurants in town.

Gas for Clothes Drying

Gas clothes dryers are the least expensive and quickest way to automatically dry your clothes. Gas leaves them lighter, fluffier, and with fewer wrinkles.

If You Have Questions

Our customer service representatives can answer questions about natural gas appliances. Or you may see your preferred appliance dealer or heating contractor for more information.

Natural gas is primarily methane, the smallest hydrocarbon molecule and propane is a three carbon chain. Both reach your burner in nearly the same form they are found in the ground. Since gas requires little processing before it is fed into the pipeline, the delivery system is very efficient, making gas the best energy buy in Montana. Both natural gas and propane are odorless and colorless in nature. We add the “rotten egg” smell for safety, to aid in detecting gas leaks.

Natural gas and propane will not make you sick or poison you. When natural gas and propane are burned, they produce water and carbon dioxide, so they are the cleanest burning, least polluting fuels.

Where does it come from?

About two thirds of our natural gas supply comes from wells in Montana and Wyoming. The remaining third is imported from Canada. A surplus of natural gas is available from reserves already discovered. Our propane supply comes from refineries and from natural gas wells.

What is the gas advantage?

Natural gas and propane are nature's most perfect fuels since they are clean and efficient. In more than 98 percent of the homes in our service areas, they provide economical energy for heating, cooking, water heating, and clothes drying. Best of all, gas is the lowest cost fuel.