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Natural gas supply issue triggers Consumers Energy request customers lower thermostats

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Consumers Energy natural gas customers in Kent County - and across the state - are being asked to voluntarily reduce their usage over the next couple of days after a fire at a southeastern Michigan compressor station damaged equipment.

Consumers Energy realizes this is a difficult but necessary request at a time when the state is gripped by an arctic air mass.

When a fire shut down Consumers Energy’s Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County late Wednesday morning, the shutdown took a portion of its natural gas supply offline. That has led to Consumers asking its residential and industrial customers to lower their usage.

“This is a very unusual circumstance.”

Roger Morgenstern is Senior Public Information Director with Consumers Energy.

“We have 15 underground storage fields across the state the state of Michigan. It’s very unusual this would happen on really a peak, cold day. The timing is unfortunate but we appreciate our customers understanding and willingness. We’re not asking them to turn off their furnaces. We’re asking them to just turn them down. You know maybe turn it down to 62-degrees. That’s still a heck of a lot warmer than it is outside. I think everyone would agree.”

Why is it important for customers to bundle up and help out?

“This gas is stored under very high pressure in these storage fields. We then reduce the pressure so that by the time it gets to your meter, to your gas line, it’s at a pressure that can handle all of your appliances and your furnace. We have to maintain that pressure at the different stages in the system and that’s a balancing act that we do every day. And we’re just asking for a little bit less use of gas so that we can maintain that pressure.”

Morganstern points out this is a temporary ask as repairs are underway and temperatures are expected to warm over the weekend.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.