gas fire

(Photo: Lauren Barthold/WWJ)

Consumers Energy Submits Report On Incident That Prompted Emergency Alert

April 05, 2019 - 5:18 pm

(WWJ) Consumers Energy is offering an explanation for a compressor station fire in Macomb County that prompted an emergency alert asking Michiganders to dial back their thermostats to conserve natural gas.

In a report on the incident, submitted to the Michigan Public Service Commission on Friday, the utility said a two-month internal investigation, confirmed by a third-party consultant, found that the Jan. 30 fire at the Ray Compressor Station, at 32 Mile and Omo Road, was caused by a combination of factors:

  • A plume of natural gas released by the safety fire-gate system was the fuel source;
  • Air outside of the plant mixed with the natural gas due to the high winds; and
  • Extremely hot equipment caused the natural gas-air mixture to ignite.

Consumers said its review found "no evidence of failure to properly maintain our equipment."

The utility maintains that the process used at the Ray station "is proven safe and effective" and that it was the "under unique and extreme weather conditions" that caused the process to become hazardous.

Consumers said it is continuing to work on implementing new procedures at the Ray station and at other locations to help avoid future issues, adding, "We appreciate and thank our customers across Michigan for all they did to help Consumers Energy and their neighbors during the unprecedented January event.”

An investigation by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPCS) into the cause of the fire, Consumers' response to it, and other factors is ongoing.