Consumers, Whitmer: Heat at 65 or lower after gas compression station fire

By: Kayla Dimick | Online Only | Published January 31, 2019

Local utility officials asked residents to set their thermostats at 65 degrees or lower in order to conserve resources in record-breaking temperatures.

According to a news release from Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, a fire broke out at around 10:33 a.m. Jan. 30 at Consumers Energy’s Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County.

Poppe said in the release that there were no injuries during the fire, and the cause is still under investigation.

Due to the blaze, the gas flow from the compressor station has been shut off until further assessments can be made.

In the meantime, Poppe said in the release, Consumers activated natural gas peaking storage fields in Northville and St. Clair to keep up with the demand of customers.

To conserve energy, Consumers urged residents on Jan. 30 to voluntarily reduce their natural gas usage by setting their thermostats to 65 degrees or lower until noon Feb. 1. That request was lifted early, at midnight Feb. 1.

The region has been slammed with a slew of winter weather, starting with a winter storm Jan. 28 that dumped up to 6 inches of snow in some areas.

Temperatures reached record-breaking lows Jan. 30 and 31, with wind chills forecasted as low as 35 degrees below zero, which could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes, officials said.

In a video statement from the Jackson Gas Control System late Jan. 30, Poppe said she urged residents to take the recommendation seriously.

Poppe said the facility is one of Consumers’ most essential, which is hindering the company’s ability to keep up with the high demand of natural gas during the cold snap.

“I need to ask you to take action tonight,” Poppe said Jan. 30. “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and I need you to take action right now. We are appealing to all Michiganders to consider reducing your thermostat as much as you can. It will make a difference.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also issued a plea to turn down the heat via the state’s emergency alert system. Residents were sent the alert on their smartphones at around 10:30 p.m. Jan. 30.

“Amplify this message. Please, post on your social media, reach out to your friends and ask them to do the same,” Whitmer said in a video statement. “Every one of us can play a role in making sure we get through this with minimal harm.

“We are resilient here In Michigan. We are tough, and we come together in times of trouble,” Poppe said in the statement. “We have an opportunity to protect the system so we can deliver enough gas for everyone to have some heat, and protect our most critical facilities, like hospitals and senior citizens’ homes. You can make a difference.”