Consumers Energy customers asked to lower thermostats after fire

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As consumers cranked up heaters to escape the bitter cold, gas demand in the lower 48 USA states jumped to a preliminary record high of 145.1 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Wednesday, according to financial data provider Refinitiv. Fiat Chrysler canceled first shifts production at its Warren and Sterling Heights plants.

It is expected that fully normal operations will resume over the weekend. About 30,000 employees were affected at GM alone.

General Motors is temporarily halting operations at 11 MI assembly plants and its Warren Tech Center campus after Consumers Energy urgently asked users to conserve their natural gas, reports Reuters.

Consumers Energy has issued an urgent appeal to its natural gas customers in southeast MI to turn down the thermostat to 65 degrees or lower to conserve gas, after a fire Wednesday morning shut down its compressor station in Macomb County.

GM also asked "about 20,000 employees at its Warren Tech Center and 4,000 at the Pontiac Propulsion campus to work from home through at least Friday", according to Crain's Detroit.

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer echoed that request in a video posted on her Facebook page, and Consumers Energy President and CEO, Patti Poppe, also released a video with an urgent request for help reducing demand.

Only factories served by Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy were affected.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a public statement later Wednesday evening urging everyone in MI to turn down their thermostats to 65 degrees until midday on Friday, when temperatures are expected to warm up. Plants powered by the region's other utility, DTE Energy, had no disruptions.

Poppe urged customers to lower the heat in their homes as much as possible, "so that we can deliver enough gas for everyone to have some heat, and to protect our most critical facilities like hospitals and senior citizens' homes". Spartan Motors, which makes emergency and other large vehicles, suspended manufacturing in Charlotte, Michigan, near Lansing, idling about 800 workers.

Consumers Energy said a fire at a gas compressor station in Michigan's Macomb County Wednesday forced it to halt gas flow from the compressor station until safety and damage assessments could be completed. While officials were unsure about the cause of the fire, they thanked the public for its response to lowering their thermostats.

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