The Michigan Public Services Commission has ruled Consumers Energy customers will not have to pay for losses incurred by the company following a fire at the Ray Compressor Station in Macomb County in 2019.
The fire occurred January 30 that year, during the middle of a polar vortex. A statewide energy emergency was declared, with the governor asking residents to lower their thermostats during a time when temperatures plunged to lower than 20 below zero, the coldest it’s been in Michigan for more than 20 years.
The Ray Compressor Station accounts for around 64 percent of Consumers’ natural gas storage in Michigan and is the company’s largest underground gas storage facility. Because of the fire, Consumers was unable to use the gas at the facility. The company purchased the gas elsewhere for around $8 million. However, it only asked for a recovery of $6.8 million. The commission ruled since the fire was due to an equipment failure, the burden falls on Consumers to cover the losses.
Consumers was also fined $10,000 earlier this year.
However, the commission did recently approve a natural gas rate increase by about $144 million, meaning Consumers customers will see a 9.1 percent increase on their gas bill starting October 1. Those funds will be used to make a one time $2 million contribution to the Heat and Warmth Fund, which provides assistance to households needing help to pay energy bills, and other non-affiliated non-profits with the funds directed to serve Consumers Energy customers, and continue its increased spending of $100 million for 2020 and $150 million starting in 2021 on its Enhanced Infrastructure Replacement Program, which replaces aging pipe with newer materials.