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

Factories shut down instead.

January 31, 2019 - 9:43 am

(WWJ) An explosion and fire at a Consumers Energy facility in northern Macomb County could've spelled disaster for areas throughout southeast Michigan.

Mayor Jim Fouts of Warren, Michigan's third largest city, says he got a wake-up call -- in more ways than one -- just after midnight. He said Consumers Energy called to say gas service could be completely shut off in his community at 7 a.m. because the resource was dwindling in the wake of a massive Arctic freeze and a fire that shut down a Consumers Energy facility in northern Macomb County.

Fouts doesn't believe Warren was alone. He thinks Southeast Michigan and Macomb County could have been at risk of losing their furnaces as real-feel temperatures hovered between 30 and 40 degrees below zero.

Fouts said he immediately turned down his own thermostat to 65 degrees and decided to use as little gas as possible today.

More importantly, major consumers of gas in his community, most notably General Motors, agreed to shut down today to conserve energy usage.

"It was clearly a wake-up call to m to look at what else we can do," Fouts said. He added that he's hoping to have a regional meeting where people can discuss what measures they can take to keep the grid across the state running smoothly.

There haven't been any mandatory shutoffs -- but people are still being told to limit gas use and turn thermostats to 65 degrees.

Still, despite the reality of how dire the situation was -- and is -- many locals say on social media they will not reduce their heat. They cite reasons including poor planning by Consumers, 'overpaid' utility company workers and political grudges against newly elected Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.  

Fouts wrote on Facebook that after the call he spent the rest of the night, "thinking of how would we care for over 100,000 people with warmth. Especially since our warming centers both open could not house the large number of people in need but we certainly would have tried."