Big Three reduce shifts, suspend operations to help save energy amid cold spell

The Big Three are doing their part in helping to reduce natural gas usage in southeast Michigan during the cold spell. 

General Motors has suspended operations at Orion Assembly, Pontiac Stamping, Warren Transmission and the Warren Tech Center. 

Fiat Chrysler canceled its first shift at Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly. Second shift employees were asked to stay tuned as the company continued to monitor the gas usage situation. 

Ford Motor Company reportedly is also taking steps to reduce energy usage at its four plants supplied by Consumers.

The energy conservation comes after a plea from Consumers Energy and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Wednesday night to start scaling back energy usage to avoid service interruption. 

An emergency alert was sent late Wednesday to cellphones asking people to lower thermostats to 65 degrees or below through Friday. The request comes after an unexpected fire at a Consumers facility in Macomb County Wednesday morning that's affected natural gas supplies. 

Consumers said in an email to customers that the fire happened around 10:30 a.m. at a compressor station. Nobody was hurt and the cause of the fire isn't known yet. 

Meanwhile, all gas flow from the station has been shut in until it's deemed safe. Storage fields in Northville and St. Clair are helping deliver natural gas to customers right now.

At 10 a.m. Thursday, Consumers said repairs are ongoing at the Ray Compressor Station, and that those making a gas conservation effort are "making a difference." They're still asking for everyone's cooperation through Friday, Feb. 1.