Consumers asks customers to reduce gas usage after fire

Bitter cold, natural gas shortages, shutter U.S. auto plants

Bitter cold, natural gas shortages, shutter U.S. auto plants

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Around 4:30 Thursday, Consumers Energy said they could give the all clear - effective Friday at midnight.

Consumers said that enough people heeded the warning to make a big enough difference. All gas flow from the compressor station has been shut in until safety and damage assessments can be completed.

Poppe said the usage cuts by large businesses were not enough, and urged 1.8 million MI customers to turn down thermostats as much as they could to cut natural gas use in order to protect critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. 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. The company said workers would return to three Lansing-area factories on Thursday's night shift, and other announcements were expected.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler plants have also heeded the utility's call.

Consumers Energy is asking all customers to reduce their natural gas usage for the next 24 to 48 hours after a fire at a key facility in Macomb County Wednesday morning.

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Poppe said the usage cuts by large businesses were not enough, and urged 1.8 million MI customers to turn down thermostats as much as they could to cut natural gas use in order to protect critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. Ranger production was unaffected. Warren Tech Center employees are also taking the day off.

An explosion and fire at a Consumers Energy facility in northern Macomb County could've spelled disaster for areas throughout southeast MI. Plants powered by the region's other utility, DTE Energy, had no disruptions.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a public statement later Wednesday evening urging everyone in MI to turn down their thermostats to 65 degrees until midday on Friday, when temperatures are expected to warm up.

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

The Michigan Public Service Commission says all state of Michigan owned facilities in the Lower Peninsula are lowering their thermostats by five degrees to lessen the burden on the natural gas supply. Consumers Energy officials say an automated system immediately shut down the supply of natural gas to the plant where the fire broke out, and by 3 p.m., all the remaining natural gas in the pipes in the plant had been vented and burned off. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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