Consumers Tells Michigan To Lower Its Thermostat; Many Say 'No'

Grudges about the energy company are running rampant on social media.

January 31, 2019 - 9:01 am

(WWJ) Consumers Energy sent a mass alert urging residents to reduce their thermostats to 65 degrees when real feel temperatures hovered between 30 and 40 degrees below zero across Michigan and natural gas usage was off the charts.

And in response, many across the state shrugged.

Others offered something more a like middle finger, filling social media with gripes about things they believe the energy behemoth could have done better to prevent shortages in the deep freeze. Pay people less, no longer give out CEO bonuses, stockpile excess in the summer, manage the grid better, invest in the grid in the off-season, lower rates for residents.

LATEST: Consumers Energy 'Sorry' For Asking, 'Thankful' For Help

While General Motors agreed to idle factories across the state to preserve natural gas for home use, some said they could not, listing legitimate reasons for concern. They have babies in the house, sickness or elderly people who need to stay warm.

Others had reasons that could only be described as belligerent.

Social media pages were peppered with people who said they were not lowering the thermostat. On WWJ's page alone, people wrote, "Not turning nothing down, give me a break update your grid Consumers,"

When Stephanie Dina Cunningham-Couch calmly urged people on the Facebook page to stop acting spoiled and put on a sweater, Sean Pitts wrote, "You shut up ... I turned my thermostat to full speed because of people like you."

Glenn Westbrook wrote, "It's a nice 75° in here."

Elizabeth Boyatt urged people to see reason, saying, "Not a fan of Whitmer's, but this isn't about her. So not sure why some of you are acting like this. Why would you risk you and others not getting ANY heat in this weather? Yes, I am worried about my pipes, I am taking precautions. By you acting like a child, does prove their point." 

In response, some said they didn't believe Whitmer would lower her own thermostat. They said variations of how toasty warm she'll be in her taxpayer-funded mansion.

And the arguments marched on and on. On 104.3 WOMC's Facebook page, Timothy Socha got a dozen likes when he wrote, "Guess the utilities need to upgrade their infrastructures instead of giving the Big BONUSES to the CEO and Upper Management!!! they asked for more money but it never goes to the right spot."

Someone said they wished they could like his comment 1,000 times.

WWJ reached out to Consumers Energy for a direct response to all these naysayers and here's what the company spokeswoman said: "We thank Michigan residents and businesses  (such as Ford, GM, Chrysler) for their contributions to keeping Michiganders warm and safe. We are cautiously optimistic the efforts are beginning to work, but still need cooperation through Friday, Feb. 1 from Michigan residents and businesses.

"We implore customers to do what they can to lower their thermostat for the greater good of all customers in Michigan. Without additional statewide reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to homes and critical facilities across Michigan – a scenario none of us want to encounter."

In regard to complaints that Consumers should have stockpiled, she said the company has prepared for this week’s historic cold weather by storing natural gas in 15 underground fields here in Michigan. The Northville and St. Clair Peak Reserves Fields are well equipped with  gas, she said.

"However, the extreme cold temperatures coupled with our fire at the Ray Compressor Station put us into this situation."

Late Thursday morning, Whitmer tweeted that she has, in fact, turned her heat down to 64 degrees -- and she asked Michiganders to do the same.

If too many people deny the call to lower thermostats, experts are issuing dire warnings. It's safe to say the gas that heats thousands of homes could run out.

Per the Associated Press, Consumers Energy's CEO Patti Poppe told The Detroit News "localized planned curtailments" for some homes and business if demand isn't reduced.

MORE: Mayor Says He Was Warned Gas Could Shut Off In Warren Today