GM halts operations at 11 Michigan plants after utility's urgent appeal

GM halts operations at 11 Michigan plants after utility's urgent appeal

It's not clear when they'll resume normal operations.

Midwestern states are experiencing natural gas shortages amid subzero temperatures, including in MI, where GM shuttered more than a dozen plants and told thousands of employees to work from home.

Michigan State Police released a statement Wednesday evening asking citizens to ease the burden on the natural gas supply by dropping thermostats as low as 65 degrees when at home, blocking leaks where heat might escape, and unplugging devices not in use.

Ford Motor Company lowered the temperature in its Livonia Transmission Plant and Van Dyke Transmission Plant to minimum levels, according to a spokeswoman, and the company also stopped heat treatment processes at Sterling Axle Plant, as well as the paint process at Michigan Assembly.

Consumers officials say voluntary conservation through Friday, combined with drawing more gas from its storage fields and from out of state, should ensure there is enough natural gas available during the extreme cold snap.

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A fire involving equipment at Consumers Energy's Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station occurred in Macomb County at 10:33 a.m. today. About 30,000 employees were affected at GM alone. Temperatures in MI were at their lowest levels of the week, with readings around negative 12 degrees in the Detroit area and at bitterly cold levels statewide.

Only factories served by Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy were affected. Localised outages were possible for some homes and businesses if demand isn't reduced. 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.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also appeared in a video online Wednesday night and said the request to lower thermostats was for those in Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Temperatures in the state were at their lowest levels of the week, with readings around negative 12 degrees (negative 24 degrees Celsius) in the Detroit area and at bitterly cold levels statewide.

The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known.

In a live Facebook video, CMS Energy CEO Patti Poppe thanked companies for the cutbacks but also urged 1.8 million non-corporate MI customers to use as little natural gas as possible so that places like hospitals and nursing homes would not be without power.

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