Consumers Energy asks customers to lower thermostats after utility explosion

Automakers stop work at dozens of Michigan sites to conserve energy

Automakers stop work at dozens of Michigan sites to conserve energy

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are asking the public to reduce natural gas consumption after a fire at a gas compressor facility Wednesday morning.

- Consumers Energy has announced that MI residents will be able to reset their heaters to previous levels after the emergency request to lower thermostats to 65 or lower.

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.

General Motors, which had shuttered more than a dozen plants in the Detroit, Lansing, Flint and Saginaw areas, already was restarting factories.

All flow from the compressor station has been shut off while fire crews contain the blaze and officials conduct damage assessments. Fiat canceled a shift at two assembly plants and was considering canceling more to further reduce energy use.

GM also asked "about 20,000 employees at its Warren Tech Center and 4,000 at the Pontiac Propulsion campus to work from home through at least Friday", according to Crain's Detroit.

An explosion and fire at a Consumers Energy facility in northern Macomb County could've spelled disaster for areas throughout southeast MI. Facilities served by the region's other utility, DTE Energy, are not affected.

Poppe credits residential customers and large industrial users that stopped operations with stepping up to help ensure people have heat. The facility provides 64 percent of Consumers' natural gas supply. "We're doing this out of an abundance of caution given the extremely cold temperatures".

The economic impact of the shutdowns is likely to be small. Workers will get paid even though their buildings were closed. Dart Container Corp., switched natural gas boilers to oil and curtailed some operations near Lansing that use natural gas.

Consumers Energy says no one was injured in the fire Wednesday at its Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County. A root cause analysis to try and determine why the fire occurred has also been initiated. Consumers Energy is activating natural gas peaking storage fields in Northville and St. Clair to help deliver natural gas to our customers.

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