Consumers Asks Customers to Reduce Gas Usage After Fire

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GM halted work at four assembly plants and nine supporting facilities Wednesday night after utility Consumers Energy asked customers to help conserve natural gas, Automotive News (AN) reported. Utility Xcel Energy asked customers in parts of Minnesota to reduce natural gas usage to prevent widespread outages. "The forecast for tomorrow is not good. It was extremely important and we can not express our gratitude deeply enough", Poppe said.

Workers at its Warren Tech Center were also told to stay home on Thursday.

Ford Motor Company lowered the temperature in its Livonia Transmission Plant and Van Dyke Transmission Plant to minimum levels, according to a spokeswoman, and the company also stopped heat treatment processes at Sterling Axle Plant, as well as the paint process at Michigan Assembly. The utility said more than 100 of its largest industrial customers cut their gas usage to help get through the shortage.

"But it is not enough", Poppe said. "I need you to take action right now", she said.

The fire broke out about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Consumers announced that MI residents can change their thermostats back after Midnight Friday.

"It's making a difference on our system", he says. "We're doing this out of an abundance of caution given the extremely cold temperatures".

In a video message posted on Facebook, CMS Energy Chief Executive Patricia Poppe said large companies, including Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co and GM, had agreed to "interrupt" production schedules through Friday to tackle the issue prompted by a fire at a MI facility and the record-breaking cold.

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. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

"As a result of an unexpected incident at a Gas Compressor station this morning in Southeast Michigan, we are asking customers to temporarily reduce gas usage at this time while we continue to contain the incident and help keep Michigan residents warm during this cold spell", said Garrick Rochow, Senior Vice President of Operations for Consumers Energy. "If every DTE Energy customer does just a little bit, energy demand can be substantially reduced - and that will help maintain reliability of the entire grid during the sub-zero temperatures".

Only factories served by Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy were affected.

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