This weather is starting to become a big problem.
If you live anywhere in the Northern part of the United States, we hope you are reading this from the warmth of your home or office. Temperatures have been reaching well into the negatives in many parts of the US causing schools and businesses to shut down. Even American automakers are finding it difficult to contend with the freezing temperatures.
Reuters reports that both General Motors and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) have been forced to temporarily suspend production in wake of the extreme temperatures in order to prevent a natural gas shortage. Ford has also taken steps to reduce its energy consumption without announcing any shutdowns.
Earlier this week, GM announced temporary shutdowns of 11 Michigan factories and its Warren Tech Center. FCA has already canceled shifts at its Warren Truck and Sterling Heights Assembly plants and is considering further cancelations. The Warren plant is where FCA continues to build the last generation Ram and Sterling Heights is where the all-new 2019 model is built.
GM told workers at its Orion, Flint, Lansing Delta Township, and Lansing Grand River Assembly plants as well as its stamping and transmission plants not to show up for their shifts on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. The automaker is still evaluating when employees could come back to work.
These production suspensions came following a warning from Consumers Energy (a division of CMS Energy Corp) to preserve natural gas used for heating. CMS Energy Chief Executive Patricia Poppe posted a message on Facebook asking 1.8 million Michigan residents to turn down their thermostats to conserve natural gas for hospitals and nursing homes. "I need you to take action right now," Poppe said.
Consumers Energy also took to Twitter saying, "without additional reductions, we run the risk of not being able to deliver natural gas to families and critical facilities across Michigan - a scenario none of us want to encounter."