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.
Due to extremely high demand for natural gas with these record low temperatures and a facility incident, Consumers Energy has asked that everyone who is able to turn down their thermostats through Friday at noon so we can all get through this with minimal harm.
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.
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. 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.
All flow from the compressor station has been shut off while fire crews contain the blaze and officials conduct damage assessments.
General Motors agreed to shut down more than 11 facilities in Flint, Lansing, and Orion Township, as well as asking thousands of workers at the Warren Tech Center to work from home through at least Friday.
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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also said it had canceled a shift on Thursday at both its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly plants and was considering whether it would need to cancel additional shifts.
Only factories served by Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy were affected.
"Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties", according to the press release.
"In our 130 years, we've never experienced this kind of demand or these kinds of temperatures", Poppe said. Automakers usually can make up for a few lost production days by increasing assembly line speeds.
Other businesses also have been affected. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Consumers Energy provides natural gas to parts of Cass, Van Buren and St. Joseph counties in MI.