Consumers Energy Told To Make Corrections After Fire In Oakland County

Lansing, MI - The Michigan Public Service Commission has outlined a number of steps Consumers Energy Co. must take to improve natural gas service reliability in the wake of a January fire at its Ray Natural Gas Compressor Station in Macomb County.

The Commission in February ordered Consumers to file a report addressing questions raised by the event, including the fire’s cause, the company’s response to the fire and subsequent natural gas shortage, implementation of gas curtailment procedures, maintenance of equipment, communication with the state and local emergency response agencies, physical and cyber security efforts, and the overall cost of the incident (Case No. U-20463).

Consumers filed its report on April 5. Commission Staff filed its response to the report on May 8. The Michigan Department of the Attorney General and the Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity also filed comments. Consumers filed a reply to the comments May 30.

After reviewing Consumers’ report and associated comments, the MPSC ordered the utility to:

  • Conduct a systemwide study of compressor station blowdown methods and locations and compose a related incident action plan.
  • Evaluate its Incident Command System and make recommendations for improvements.
  • File reports on the Ray storage field natural gas injection timeline, status of facility repairs, and Ray capacity for the 2019-20 heating season.
  • Detail the costs for the Ray incident in the company’s next general rate, power supply cost recovery, and/or gas cost recovery case.

The MPSC’s Gas Operations Section is conducting an incident root cause analysis and the Commission today ordered the results of the investigation to be filed by Jan. 31, 2020.

Deadline set for comments on initial Statewide Energy Assessment
The Commission set a 5 p.m. Aug. 9 deadline for the public and other interested parties to file comments on the MPSC’s initial Statewide Energy Assessment (Case No. U-20464), which was submitted to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on July 1.

A polar vortex that struck Michigan in January and was compounded by a fire at a Consumers Energy Co. natural gas compressor station in Macomb County prompted the Governor to call upon the MPSC to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the adequacy of electric, natural gas, and propane delivery systems in Michigan to account for operational problems, changing conditions and extreme weather events, and also provide recommendations to mitigate risk.

The MPSC’s initial assessment found that Michigan’s energy supply and delivery systems are adequate to meet customer needs, but it also made 36 recommendations and 14 observations to add resiliency to the state’s energy systems. A final report is due to the Governor by Sept. 13.

Comments can be sent to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and should reference the Statewide Energy Assessment, Case No. U-20464.

(For a Statewide Energy Assessment fact sheet, click here; and SEA web site, click here.)

COMMENTS SOUGHT ON LOW-INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE SURCHARGE
The Commission opened a comment period on the proposed 92-cent monthly surcharge per meter to fund the Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund (Case No. U-17377). Comments may be sent to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5 p.m. July 15 and should reference Case No. U-17377. Investor-owned, municipally-owned, and cooperative electric utilities had to indicate by July 1 their participation in the program. Utilities that do not participate are barred from shutting off service to a residential customer from Nov. 1 to April 15 for a delinquent utility account.

CONSUMERS WILL CONTINUE BUYING ENERGY FROM HILLMAN BIOMASS PLANT
The MPSC approved a power purchase agreement amendment between Consumers Energy Co. and Hillman Power Co. LLC for electric output from the Hillman Generating Plant biomass facility (Case No. U-20496). Consumers says ratepayers will see savings through power supply cost recovery. The agreement expires May 31, 2022. The two companies had been in talks to extend the PPA since December 2014.

DTE ELECTRIC, RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMER GROUP DENIED REHEARINGS
The Commission denied requests to reconsider decisions in DTE Electric Co.’s May 2 rate increase approval (Case No. U-20162). DTE and the Residential Customer Group challenged MPSC findings on issues including River Rouge Unit 3 power plant, 4G upgrade, and demand-side management program capital expense denials; banked credits for distributed generation customers; federal tax law impacts; and advanced meter infrastructure opt-out charges.

For information about the MPSC, visit www.michigan.gov/mpsc, sign up for one of its listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter. To watch a livestream of the MPSC’s meetings, click here.

DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.