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No rate increase for Consumers Energy gas losses during 2019 polar vortex

Consumers Energy won't be allowed to apply a nearly $7 million loss from a natural gas fire during the 2019 polar vortex to customers.
Consumers Energy won't be allowed to apply a nearly $7 million loss from a natural gas fire during the 2019 polar vortex to customers.(WJRT)
Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Consumers Energy natural gas customers won’t be on the hook for nearly $8 million in losses caused by a massive fire during the 2019 polar votex.

As temperatures plunged more than 20 degrees below zero and natural gas usage surged in January and February 2019, Consumers’ Ray Compressor Station in Macomb County caught fire.

That meant Consumers couldn’t access gas stored at the facility, so the utility had to rely on purchasing elsewhere at higher costs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared an energy emergency for the state and asked residents to turn down their thermostats during the coldest weather in two decades.

This year, Consumers asked the Michigan Public Service Commission to allow a rate increase to cover the $8 million loss from purchasing more expensive natural gas supplies during January and February of 2019. The request was part of nearly $17.5 million Consumers says it lost on natural gas rates from March 2018 to March 2019.

The MPSC investigation showed the Ray Generating Station was caused by a Consumers Energy equipment failure, so the commission ruled that the company should bear the cost of all losses.

The commission instead approved a $10.9 million shortfall with interest, which will not affect customers' rates.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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