Governor, Consumers Energy ask residents, businesses to turn down thermostats following fire at gas compressor station

As a polar vortex brings plummeting temperatures and wind chills as low as 35 degrees below zero to West Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Consumers Energy are urging Michigan residents to reduce their gas usage as much as possible following a fire at a gas compressor station outside of Detroit.

The governor and the energy company are asking all Lower Peninsula residents to turn their thermostats to 65 degrees or lower from Wednesday night through Friday.

“Every one of us can play a role in making sure we get through this with minimal harm,” Whitmer said during a Wednesday night press conference.

A fire broke out at Consumer Energy’s Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County just after 10:30am Wednesday morning. There were no injuries, and the cause of the fire is under investigation. Unable to use gas from the Macomb County station, Consumers Energy must now supply gas from reserve storage areas in Wayne and St. Clair counties to customers facing bitterly cold temperatures.

“Earlier today, we all know, we experienced record-breaking temperatures and, at the same time, that therefore creates demand for natural gas,” Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe said in a live video aired Wednesday night. “In fact, we had record-breaking demand for natural gas today. And we got off to a good start; our system worked perfectly, and we were able to deliver at our peak moment earlier today. However, at 10:30am, we experienced a fire at one of our facilities–one of our most significant facilities–and, as a result that’s inhibiting our ability to deliver to you the gas we have in our system.”

Now, Poppe said it’s crucial that residents and businesses reduce usage.

“I need to ask you to take action tonight; the forecast for tomorrow is not good,” the CEO said. “It’s going to be colder tomorrow than it is today and, without any action, there will be more demand for natural gas tomorrow than today.”

To reduce gas usage, Consumers Energy noted residents and businesses can set their heat at 65 degrees while at home and 62 degrees when they are away for less than five hours. Individuals are also encouraged to check for leaks in windows and doors by feeling around for cool air and ensure all windows and doors are closed tightly.

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