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Ford, GM Disrupted By Winter Storm As DTE, Consumers Demand Heat Conservation

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Ford, GM Disrupted By Winter Storm As DTE, Consumers Demand Heat Conservation

Michiganders cranked the heat as temperatures settled below -12 degrees Fahrenheit, but state officials are urging them to cut back.

A late-night fire at Consumers Energy Co (NYSE: CMS-B)’s Ray Compressor Station in the Metro Detroit area, which holds 64 percent of the utility’s supply, has threatened a natural gas shortage, and DTE Energy Co (NYSE: DTE) fears high demand could overburden its regional energy grid.

"This truly is an unprecedented crisis," Consumers CEO Patti Poppe said. "We have never been in this situation before… If we don’t get the reduction in demand, and if the system doesn't flow properly in any other way," management may begin notifying businesses and residents about "localized planned curtailments."

Related Link: Ice Jams Cause Flooding, Chaos Amid Arctic Outbreak

Both utilities services have advised customers to dial thermostats down to 65 degrees. Failure to comply could result in brief service suspensions — which may prove deadly in this winter vortex.

"We are appealing to all Michiganders to consider reducing your thermostat as much as you can. It will make a difference," Poppe said in a Facebook post. "... We have an opportunity to protect the system 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."

The conservation effort has already disrupted operations for Michigan’s most critical industry.

At Consumers’ request, General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) announced a number of plant suspensions for the duration of the shortage: Orion Assembly, Pontiac Stamping, Flint Assembly, Flint Stamping, Flint Engine, Flint Tool & Die, Lansing Delta Township Assembly, Lansing Grand River Assembly, Lansing Regional Stamping, Lansing Grand River Stamping, Warren Transmission and Warren Tech Center.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) closed one of its four sites serviced by Consumers and reduced heat in the three others.

“Due to extreme temperatures and at the request of Consumers Energy, we are curtailing our natural gas usage in some of our plants,” Ford said in a statement. “We lowered the temperature in Livonia Transmission Plant and Van Dyke Transmission Plant to minimum levels. We stopped heat treatment processes at Sterling Axle Plant and will stop our paint process at Michigan Assembly Plant at midnight. We will continue to work with Consumers Energy in the days ahead. All other plants are operating normally.”

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