General Motors, Fiat Chrysler to resume normal operations after utility strain

The cancellations came after CMS Energy Corp made an emergency appeal to users on January 30 to conserve natural gas following a fire at a compressor station and extremely cold weather.

February 01, 2019 / 09:27 AM IST

General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said on January 31 they plan to resume normal operations after they were forced to cancel shifts at plants in Michigan over concerns about the state's natural gas supply.

The cancellations came after CMS Energy Corp made an emergency appeal to users on January 30 to conserve natural gas following a fire at a compressor station and extremely cold weather.

Fiat Chrysler said it would resume normal operations on February 1 after it cancelled two shifts at its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly plants on January 31.

GM said on January 30 it was suspending operations at 13 Michigan plants and its Warren Tech Center due to the CMS request. It resumed limited operations at five engine, transmission and stamping plants on Thursday afternoon.

GM said late on January 31 it would resume operations on February 1 at all manufacturing facilities and some critical labs, testing and other limited locations.

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GM said employees at three locations including the Tech Center will work from February 1 and added it expects normal operations to resume in full over the weekend.

Ford Motor Co said it had also taken steps to reduce energy use at its four Michigan plants supplied by CMS.

CMS, the parent company of Consumers Energy, took the unusual step of issuing an urgent appeal to 1.8 million Michigan customers on January 30 asking them to lower their thermostats to ease the burden on the system due to the fire and record cold weather.

The company said January 31 that consumers could resume normal usage at 12:01 a.m. February 1 .

CMS Chief Executive Patricia Poppe said earlier on January 31 about 79 large users in Michigan including major automakers, other manufacturers and two universities had curtailed their natural gas usage. Along with individual consumers, usage had fallen by about 10 percent over anticipated demand, she said at a news conference on January 31.

Michigan State University said it cut hot water to some buildings and reduced temperatures in some buildings.

The White House National Security Council weighed in on Twitter on January 31 urging people in Michigan to listen to state and local authorities "tonight and tomorrow re natural gas use in the coming days."
Reuters
first published: Feb 1, 2019 09:14 am

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