RAY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Consumers Energy has called on customers to voluntarily reduce their natural gas usage following a fire at a suburban Detroit gas compressor station amid bitterly cold weather.
The Jackson-based utility says no one was injured in the fire Wednesday at its Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Consumers says all gas flow from the station was shut off, and it activated natural gas peaking storage fields to help meet the demand for gas to heat homes and businesses.
The Michigan Public Service Commission said all state-owned facilities in the Lower Peninsula lowered their thermostats by 5 degrees to reduce the burden on the natural gas supply.
Consumers has asked that all customers set their thermostat to 65 degrees when they are home and 62 degrees when they are away for less than five hours. They asked that customers continue the reduction through Friday night to prevent outages.
"It is realistic, but only if people are willing to help. I know that Michiganders are tough and when we stick together we can really do anything. So, I would ask our customers and the people actually all across the state, even MichCon customers, DTE Gas customers, benefit the overall system by reducing the thermostat in their homes as well,” said Patti Poppe, the Consumers Energy President and CEO.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made a statement Wednesday night asking everyone to turn the thermostat down to 65 degrees or lower.
“I’m coming to you now to ask for your help. 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," she said in a statement.
Andy Tomczyk, president of WKW Extrusions in Portage, said they were directed by Consumers to shut down because of the gas restriction. The Portage business third shift was shut down on Wed. Jan. 30, 2019, and first and second shift was shut down Thur. Jan. 31, 2019.
Consumers Energy President Pattie Poppe said in an interview that Graphic Packaging was also curtailing production to accommodate Consumers.