State orders further study after Consumers Energy’s $25.5 million January fire [Citizen Patriot, Jackson, Mich.]

Jul. 3JACKSON, Mich.Consumers Energy has been ordered to take a deeper look into its procedures, in wake of the January fire at the Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County that put the utility in danger of a natural gas shortage.

The Michigan Public Service Commission ordered Tuesday, July 2, that Consumers study its gas release methods and create a plan for future incidents, evaluate and make recommendations for incident management, file reports on the timeline of what’s happened at the compressor station and further detail costs of the incident.

Record-low temperatures across the state in late January led to record-high demand for natural gas. The Macomb County station where the fire occurred holds 64 percent of Consumers’ supply.

“We are reviewing the order from the MPSC and are already underway with modifications to our Ray Compressor Station ahead of the fall heating season,” Katie Carey, Consumers’ director of media relations, said in a statement. “We continue to work with the commission and other stakeholders on this issue.”

Consumers filed a report in April with initial findings from the incident. An automatic release of natural gas combined with high winds and hot equipment caused the fire at Consumers’ largest natural gas storage site.

The estimated total cost for the incident is $25.5 million, including $18 million for repairs to the facility and more than $7 million in emergency natural gas purchases.

Consumers’ net earnings in the first quarter was $213 million — which is $28 million shy of the first quarter earnings in 2018.

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