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Regulators reject Consumers Energy price hike related to 2019 fire

Posted at 10:06 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 22:06:33-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Public Service Commission rejected on Thursday a request from Consumers Energy to recover millions of dollars related to supplying natural gas to customers in 2019.

An energy emergency sparked by a fire at the company’s Macomb County compressor station during the polar vortex cost Consumers Energy tens of millions of dollars.

Consumers wanted to raised rates by a combined $6.8 million to help recover costs.

The utility had spent nearly $8 million to purchase natural gas to supply to customers because Consumers wasn’t able to deliver gas it had already purchased.

The gas had been in storage at the utility’s Ray Township storage field.

However, customers had been asked to turn down their thermostats to 65 degrees to ensure there was enough gas to go around, dropping usage by 10 percent.

An investigation also found that the January 2019 fire was caused by equipment problems at the Ray compressor station.

The commission found that ratepayers shouldn’t be responsible for the extra supply costs associated with the loss of access to the stored gas.

The commission approved an under-recovery of almost $11 million, including interest.

It does not affect rates paid by customers in the near future.