Polar vortex shuts down 11 GM auto plants in MI

Automakers stop work at dozens of Michigan sites to conserve energy

Workers at its Warren Tech Center were also told to stay home on Thursday.

Patti Poppe, president and CEO of CMS Energy & Consumers Energy went live on the company's Facebook page to ask customers to reduce their usage.

A man runs by the Chicago River during subzero temperatures carried by the polar vortex, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., January 30, 2019.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also said it had canceled a shift on Thursday at both its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly plants and was considering whether it would need to cancel additional shifts.

Consumers Energy, the state's largest natural gas provider, said gas flow from the compressor station had to be shut off, leaving MI residents at risk of brief service interruptions in subzero temperatures.

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. In addition, the company has reached out to its largest business customers to reduce gas usage during this time. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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.

The request to lower thermostat temperatures came after a fire at a compression plant in Macomb that occurred Wednesday, which knocked out three plants.

Consumers Energy had asked the plants and other big gas users to curtail work for fear of running out of gas for homes and other critical buildings during a record-setting deep freeze.

DTE Energy, meanwhile, also asked MI customers to help "safeguard the reliability of the regional energy grid" amid the cold by voluntarily reducing electricity use.

The utility says the spike in demand for energy is placing stress on the Midwest grid.

An explosion and fire at a Consumers Energy facility in northern Macomb County could've spelled disaster for areas throughout southeast MI.

In a Twitter message, Consumers Energy warned that "without additional reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to families and critical facilities across MI - a scenario none of us want to encounter".

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