Advance Notice: Briefs

Consumers Energy fire spurs state to lower thermostat

By: - January 31, 2019 2:08 am

State offices are turning down the thermostat by 5 degrees and asking residents to do the same during record-breaking sub-zero temperatures, the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) announced Wednesday night.

After an explosion at a Consumers Energy facility in Macomb County spurred a gas shortage, MPSC Chair Sally Talberg asked Lower Peninsula residents to turn down their thermostats and reduce electricity use.

The explosion caused Consumers to tap into natural gas storage fields in Northville and St. Clair, representatives for the company told The Detroit News.

“This unfortunate incident happened at a difficult time for our state and we ask that everyone do what they can to make sure there is a plentiful supply of natural gas to keep everyone safe and warm during the extreme cold weather,” Talberg said.

“Without jeopardizing safety, there are some measures Michigan residents and businesses can take to reduce gas and electric use, such as turning thermostats down a couple of degrees, blocking leaks around windows and doors, unplugging electronic devices when not in use, and adjusting staffing or processes,” she continued. “Working together for the good of the state, we can reduce our energy use and maintain safe, reliable service.”

Due to the potential energy shortage following the Macomb County fire, Consumers is asking customers to set their home thermostats to 65 degrees when residents are home and 62 degrees when they’re away for less than five hours, the News reported.

The announcement comes after Consumers and DTE Energy — the two main energy suppliers in Michigan — announced they would temporarily suspend gas and electric shutoffs due to the extreme cold.

A State Police officer rides into the snowstorm | Michael Gerstein

DTE suspends shutoffs if temperatures fall below 15 degrees with wind chills below zero for at least two days, according to a press release from State Police emergency operations. Consumers does the same.

“With the extreme weather it’s vitally important that Michiganders stay safe and warm,” said Madhu Anderson, deputy director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, in a statement Wednesday. “If anyone has trouble paying their utility bills, there are a number of options available to them, from community service agencies to low-income assistance by utilities. We urge those in need to access these critical services by calling either 211 or your local utility provider.”

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Michael Gerstein
Michael Gerstein

Michael Gerstein is a former Advance reporter covering the Governor's office, criminal justice and the environment.