Lawmakers support review of state’s energy infrastructure

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Energy and Technology Committee chairman and local Macomb County legislators on Friday announced their support for a review of Michigan’s energy supply after a Consumers Energy facility fire resulted in a statewide call for residents to turn down their thermostats during record low temperatures.

“I want to thank the residents of Michigan for their quick response in reducing the demand for natural gas and ensuring heat for those all across our state,” said Sen. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “This situation brought together multiple utilities and forged cooperation between the state and suppliers through the Michigan Public Service Commission.

“As chair of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee, I look forward to reviewing the commission’s report on the incident soon and their review of our state’s ability to provide reliable energy resources to consumers.”

A fire on Wednesday at Consumers Energy’s Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County resulted in all three of the facility’s compressors being shut down. The facility handles a significant amount of the natural gas for the utility, and the shutdown reduced the amount of natural gas that could be delivered to customers from underground storage.

The utility appealed to the public to reduce their natural gas use by turning down their thermostats to 65 degrees and an emergency alert with the request was sent out by the state.

“Public utilities must be available and reliable, especially when it comes to heating our homes in the dead of winter,” said Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Township. “I appreciate the swift action to address this issue that impacted so many Macomb County residents, but I do agree that there needs to be a thorough review of our state’s energy infrastructure. We must work to ensure that our utilities are always equipped to handle problems as they arise, including having adequate supplies and sufficient diversity of distribution.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has requested Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to complete a statewide review of supply and deliverability of natural gas, electricity and propane and come up with a contingency plan by July 1 with a final report to follow.

“Michigan families should never have to worry about losing heat in their homes during deadly cold temperatures because of an energy supply issue,” said Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond. “Thankfully, because of the action of thousands of Michigan homeowners and dozens of businesses, a true crisis was averted.”

According to Consumers Energy, the response to the request to reduce energy demand led to a 10 percent decrease in natural gas usage, which helped avoid heat interruptions.

The average natural gas demand on a typical cold winter day in Michigan is 2.5 billion cubic feet, and the record for demand was 3 billion cubic feet. On Wednesday, the state hit a new record demand of 3.3 billion cubic feet.

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