GM halts operations at 11 Michigan plants after utility's urgent appeal

Automakers stop work at dozens of Michigan sites to conserve energy

Automakers stop work at dozens of Michigan sites to conserve energy

General Motors agreed to shut down more than 11 facilities in Flint, Lansing, and Orion Township, as well as asking thousands of workers at the Warren Tech Center to work from home through at least Friday.

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.

Consumers Energy is asking all customers to reduce their natural gas usage for the next 24 to 48 hours after a fire at a key facility in Macomb County Wednesday morning. Fiat canceled a shift at two assembly plants and was considering canceling more to further reduce energy use.

Cell phones chimed with an emergency alert around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, with a message from Consumers Energy: "Due to extreme temps, Consumers asks everyone to lower their heat to 65 or less through Friday". In addition, the company has reached out to its largest business customers to reduce gas usage during this time.

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"But it is not enough", Poppe said.

"Because of the swift action of all, we were able to continue critical services - from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the men and women of Consumers Energy, we thank you", said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy's president and CEO.

The company says they are activating natural gas storage fields in Northville and St. Clair to help deliver natural gas to the customers.

The fire broke out about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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After the announcement, GM said it will suspend operations at several sites after a request from Consumers. "Ensuring out of an abundance of caution that everyone's home is safe and warm tonight". A root cause analysis to try and determine why the fire occurred has also been initiated.

Ford Motor said it had also taken steps to reduce energy use at its four MI plants supplied by Consumers Energy, but added the situation remained fluid.

In a Twitter message, Consumers Energy warned that "without additional reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to families and critical facilities across MI - a scenario none of us want to encounter".

Only factories served by Jackson, Michigan-based Consumers Energy were affected.

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