JACKSON, Mich. (WWJ) - The CEO of Consumers Energy says the utility is sorry for asking Michiganders to turn down their heat, and thankful for the help.
Speaking to WWJ's Jon Hewett and other reporters Thursday, Patti Poppe said customers' voluntary power reductions were a "game changer" amid a deep freeze and natural gas shortage that prompted a statewide request via the emergency alert system Wedneday night.
Poppe noted extraordinary circumstances, telling reporters that the utility in 130 years had never before experienced this kind of energy demand as a result of cold weather. Added to it, she said, was an unforeseen shutdown at the company's Ray Compressor Station in Macomb County Wednesday morning.
"We prepare for these extremes; we were prepared for these extremes," she said. "However, we could not overcome the failure of our equipment as a result of the fire at our largest storage and delivery facility. As a result of that, we had to ask for your help. That is where you all answered the call."
"We are sorry that we had to do that," Poppe said. "We are disappointed that our system was unable to serve at full capacity. However, we are extraordinarily grateful for the efforts that you took, and the actions in your response to our call."
Looking forward, Poppe they're "cautiously optimistic" the system is once again stable; thanking customers for their patience.
After earlier requesting that customers turn home thermostats down to at least 65 degrees through 10 a.m. Friday, Poppe said they made some progress in returning things back to normal. The utility now says Michiganders should scale back their energy use until midnight Thursday.
As a result of all this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she is asking the Michigan Public Service Commission to conduct a review of the state's energy supply and preparedness. "It's important that we get a handle on what's happened here," the governor said, so that the state is in a stronger position for the next deep freeze.
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