Consumers Energy gives all clear for residents to turn up thermostats at midnight

Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 18:32:15-05

(WXYZ) — Residents across the state can increase their home's heat over 65 degrees after midnight, according to an update from Consumers Energy.

After a state of emergency declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and pleas for residents to lower their thermostats to 65 degrees or less on Wednesday, the all-clear is happening sooner than initially expected. The utility was close to the brink to cutting off some supplies in the most critical time.

Consumers officials say more than 100 major industrial and commercial customers, including the big 3 automakers, closed or reduced production. Residential customers also helped reduce the demand by 10percent to get through the “perfect storm” that was caused by record-cold weather and a fire at a major Consumers Energy natural gas pressure station in Ray Township on Wednesday. Part of that plant has been restored and Consumers Energy was able to get some additional supplies from interstate pipelines.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sounded the alert late Wednesday night. She said Thursday that if Consumers Energy had supply issues it would have been their call who to cut off, and the state would have moved in with resources to keep people safe. She is also asking the Public Service Commission to review supplies and distribution to make sure Michigan and utilities don’t run out of natural gas in the future. The Governor also closed non-essential state offices for a third day due to the coldest weather Michigan has had in a quarter of a century.

As a result of the voluntary gas reduction across the state, automakers announced the temporary suspension or slowing of work at manufacturing sites. GM stopped work at a dozen manufacturing sites in Michigan, while Ford lowered temperatures at local transmission plants and stopped heat treatment processes. Fiat Chrysler canceled first shifts production at its Warren and Sterling Heights plants. After Consumers Energy announced the all clear, General Motors said in a press release Thursday that some facilities will be up and running at 12:01 a.m. Friday at "all manufacturing facilities and some critical labs, testing and other limited locations." All operations will be up and running over the weekend. Read the full statement below:

"Working with Consumers Energy, GM will begin resuming operations at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1, at all manufacturing facilities and some critical labs, testing and other limited locations. Employees at those locations will receive specific communications from their facility.

Employees working in office environments affected by the natural gas issue such as the Global Technical Center in Warren, Pontiac Engineering Center and CCA-Grand Blanc should continue to work from home Friday.

It is expected that fully normal operations will resume over the weekend. All employees should plan to return to their work sites on Monday morning, Feb. 4."