Consumers Energy asks customers to turn down thermostats to avoid gas shortage

Fire at a Consumers Energy substation has affected natural gas supplies; DTE Energy tells customers they no longer need to reduce their usage

Consumers Energy asks customers to turn down thermostats to avoid gas shortage
Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy, makes a plea for Michigan residents to reduce their energy usage to help cope with a possible shortage after a fire at compressor plant.

LANSING, Mich. (WTOL STAFF AND AP REPORTS) — Officials are warning Michigan residents that they risk brief interruptions of natural gas service for heat amid bitterly cold weather if they don’t help reduce energy use following a fire at a utility’s suburban Detroit facility that affected natural gas supplies.

Consumers Energy's CEO Patti Poppe made an appeal Wednesday night for customers to reduce their natural gas usage. She later told The Detroit News "localized planned curtailments" for some homes and business if demand isn't reduced.

LIVE: Patti Poppe, President and CEO of CMS Energy & Consumers Energy

LIVE: Patti Poppe, President and CEO of CMS Energy & Consumers Energy • Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station update • Public appeal for voluntary natural gas reduction the next 24 to 48 hours

Posted by Consumers Energy on Wednesday, January 30, 2019

An emergency alert was sent late Wednesday to cellphones asking people to lower thermostats to 65 degrees (18 degrees Celsius) or below through Friday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked everyone to "to do your part."

“Due to extremely high demand for natural gas with record-low temperatures, and an incident at a facility, @ConsumersEnergy has asked everyone who is able to please turn down their thermostats to 65° or less until Friday at noon,” the governor tweeted.

Consumers Energy says no one was injured in the fire Wednesday at its Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County.

Consumers Energy tweeted out tips to reduce natural gas usage, and also acknowledged the timing of the appeal was less than ideal.

"We understand the timing of our request is not ideal given today’s cold temperatures, however, without additional reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to families and critical facilities across Michigan – a scenario none of us want to encounter," Consumers said.

DTE Energy, meanwhile, is asking Michigan customers to help “safeguard the reliability of the regional energy grid” amid the cold by voluntarily reducing electricity use.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the Michigan Public Service Commission has suspended all utility shutoffs during the cold snap, a news release from the regulators said.

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