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NorthWestern Energy is proposing an upgrade to its facilities inside Yellowstone National Park to improve its service to the remote area. Two public meetings on the topic are scheduled next week.

The work would include building seven new 60-foot towers, small equipment buildings, adding backup power generators, and propane fuel tanks at seven existing substations inside the park. The National Park Service is taking public comment on the proposals prior to preparing an environmental assessment to analyze the plan's impacts.

The improvements would give NorthWestern remote computer monitoring and control of the electrical distribution system and replace an obsolete radio communications system utility crews need when working inside Yellowstone. The improvements are intended to reduce the number and duration of power outages in the park. Within the last year, more than 200 power outages occurred within the park, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of days.

The public is encouraged to attend one of the following public meetings to learn more about the proposal: May 21 in Cody, Wyo.: Park County Library Grizzly Hall, 1500 Heart Mountain Street; May 22 in Bozeman: Holiday Inn, 5 Baxter Lane East. Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

Additional information on the proposal along with instructions on how to submit comments online at the National Park Service's Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/NWEPlan.

Comments may also be mailed to the National Park Service, Compliance Office, Attn: NorthWestern Energy Communication and Automation Plan, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190. Comments may also be hand-delivered during normal business hours to the Mailroom in the park’s Administration Building in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo. Comments must be received by midnight on June 13.

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