Michigan governor wants thermostats at 65 degrees during cold stretch

Natural gas supply down during peak demand after fire

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is requesting residents turn down their thermostats to no higher than 65 degrees while the state is gripped by cold weather.

UPDATEConsumers Energy says residents can turn up thermostats at midnight Thursday

Extra sweaters and sweatshirts will be in order to help make this happen. Metro Detroit, for instance, has been experiencing wind chills of -30 degrees F and below. 

You can call this a suggestion or a mandate from Michigan officials, but there is valid concern after a fire Wednesday in northern Macomb County disrupted Michigan's natural gas flow. The fire in Armada Township forced closed a gas compressor station that would not be noticed otherwise. 

General Motors is closing several plants on Thursday including Orion Assembly, Pontiac Stamping, Flint Stamping, Flint Engine, Flint Tool Die, and Lansing Delta Township Assembly, Lansing Grand River Assembly, Lansing Regional Stamping, Lansing Grand River Stamping, Warren Transmission and the Warren Tech Center. 

UPDATEConsumers asks customers to continue reducing gas use through end of Friday

Fiat Chrysler is canceling shifts at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant and the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. 

"I want to personally thank all of our large big customers, customers like GM, Fiat Chrysler, Ford and Verdell, and countless others, for interrupting their schedules tonight and tomorrow and Friday as a result of our system capacities buit is not enough," said Patti Poppe, president and CEO of Consumers Energy. 

Watch Whitmer's short news conference here: 

It's a simple case of supply and demand that's not working in residents' favor. The coldest days of the year spike to the highest demand, but the compressor station's loss in Macomb County is giving the state some of the lowest supply in the pipelines. 

Cutting back on the demand appears to be a necessity, according to state officials. 

Governor emergency alert system to ask residents to turn heat down

This emergency alert was sent to Michigan residents on Jan. 30, 2019. (WDIV)

On Wednesday night, Whitmer used the emergency alert system to ask consumers to lower their heat this week. The cellphone alert system is typically used for Amber Alerts in Michigan. 

“I’m coming to you now to ask for your help. 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," Whitmer said.

Whitmer signed an order declaring a state of emergency in Michigan earlier this week ahead of the forecasted sub-zero temperatures.

“Keeping Michiganders safe during this stretch of dangerously cold temperatures is our priority,” Whitmer said. “Such widespread, extreme conditions have not occurred in Michigan for many years and it is imperative that we are proactive with record-low temperatures being predicted by the National Weather Service. Wind chills are predicted as low as 50 degrees below zero in many places, such as metro Detroit which is especially unaccustomed to these temps.”

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.