With the region mired in below-normal temperatures in February, heating bills are on the rise.
Mark Hanson of Montana-Dakota Utilities said Wednesday that natural gas usage is 45 percent higher than average for eastern Montana in February.
Usage is only up 10 percent for the first two months of the year, largely because of the warm January, according to Hanson.
The Billings area is in the middle of the second coldest February on record.
MDU has 143,000 electric customers and 275,000 natural gas customers in 262 communities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.