Consumers asks customers to reduce gas usage after fire

Jeannie Matthews
February 1, 2019

Michigan State Police released a statement Wednesday evening asking citizens to ease the burden on the natural gas supply by dropping thermostats as low as 65 degrees when at home, blocking leaks where heat might escape, and unplugging devices not in use.

- Businesses can reduce their workload for the day.

Midwestern states are experiencing natural gas shortages amid subzero temperatures, including in MI, where GM shuttered more than a dozen plants and told thousands of employees to work from home.

Consumers Energy also sent a text alert about the natural gas reduction to customers' cell phones on Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press reports, and CEO Patti Poppe addressed customers on Facebook Live Wednesday night, when temperatures in Detroit remained well below zero.

The Jackson-based utility says no one was injured in the fire Wednesday at its Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County. Temperatures in MI were at their lowest levels of the week, with readings around negative 12 degrees in the Detroit area and at bitterly cold levels statewide.

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Fiat Chrysler also canceled the first shifts of production for Thursday at its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly palnts. Even General Motors' sprawling technical center in Warren, Michigan, north of Detroit, was closed and its roughly 20,000 employees were told to stay home.

Editor's note: Both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio. Plants powered by the region's other utility, DTE Energy, had no disruptions.

"We plan for these extreme conditions - we had enough gas available", she said. Spartan Motors, which makes emergency and other large vehicles, suspended manufacturing in Charlotte, Michigan, near Lansing, idling about 800 workers.

Consumers has activated its underground storage fields in Northville and St. Clair to supply more natural gas to Southeast Michigan. Whitmer asked residents to turn their thermostats to 65 degrees or lower until noon Friday. He said Consumers Energy called to say gas service could be completely shut off in his community at 7 a.m. because the resource was dwindling in the wake of a massive Arctic freeze and a fire that shut down a Consumers Energy facility in northern Macomb County. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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