"As a result of an unexpected incident at a Gas Compressor station this morning in Southeast Michigan, we are asking customers to temporarily reduce gas usage at this time while we continue to contain the incident and help keep Michigan residents warm during this cold spell", said Garrick Rochow, Senior Vice President of Operations for Consumers Energy.
An emergency alert was sent late Wednesday to cellphones asking people to lower thermostats to 65 degrees (18 degrees Celsius) or below through Friday.
MI governor Gretchen Whitmer released a statement in response to the company's request.
The Jackson-based utility says no one was injured in the fire Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, at its Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County.
"We plan for these extreme conditions - we had enough gas available", she said.
Other big commercial users also closed plants or reduced natural gas usage.
"While we're expecting some relief later in the week from the polar vortex, it's important that the electrical grid get help from our customers today", Executive Director of Generation Optimization Christy Wicke said in the statement.
"I'm coming to you now to ask for your help". The facility provides 64 percent of Consumers' natural gas supply. SEMCO Energy customers appear to be the only ones that will remain unaffected. "We're doing this out of an abundance of caution given the extremely cold temperatures".
The fire remains under investigation.
Consumers Energy's CEO Patti Poppe made an appeal Wednesday following a fire at one of its suburban Detroit facilities that affected natural gas supplies.
In a live Facebook video, CMS Energy CEO Patti Poppe thanked companies for the cutbacks but also urged 1.8 million non-corporate MI customers to use as little natural gas as possible so that places like hospitals and nursing homes would not be without power. The utility said that while its own lines were performing well, "our system is connected to energy grids in other states and Canada that are experiencing issues due to the extreme weather".
She is also asking the Public Service Commission to review supplies and distribution to make sure MI and utilities don't run out of natural gas in the future.
Editor's note: Both DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.