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Emergency alert asks residents to lower thermostats

JACKSON, Mich. - Consumers Energy is asking for customers to reduce their natural gas usage after a fire shut down gas flow from a facility in Macomb County.

At 10:32 p.m. Wednesday night, an emergency alert was sent out to Michigan residents asking them to comply with the request.

The fire happened about 10:30 a.m. at the Consumers Energy Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. No one was injured, but all gas flow from the station has been shut off which crews assess the damage and replace safety measures.

"We don't know when we're going to be able to return to normal operations," said Consumers spokesman Roger Morgenstern. "We're doing this out of an abundance of caution given the extremely cold temperatures."

The company says they are activating natural gas storage fields in Northville and St. Clair to help deliver natural gas to the customers. The geological features, unique to Michigan, allow the company to store natural gas reserves underground until its needed.

Wednesday night, Consumers Energy CEO Pattie Poppe took to Facebook Live to ask customers to reduce natural gas use.

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.

“One of the great things about Michiganders is we're all in this together," said Vice President of Operations for Consumers Gerrick Rochow. “Everyone pitches in. We made the announcement around noon and we're already seeing it on our system and our customers are making the right choice to help out for the overall system.”

All State of Michigan-owned facilities in the Lower Peninsula are lowering thermostats by five degrees.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the following release on the matter:

“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.

So please: turn your thermostat down to 65 degrees or lower and amplify this message by reposting and making sure your friends, relatives and neighbors who are getting ready for bed to turn theirs down too.

You can play a role in helping people across the state survive these extreme temperatures. Please do. We’re calling on every Michigander to do your part and help us weather this storm together.”

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