On January 30, 2019, a fire at CE’s Ray Compressor Station jeopardized the utility’s ability to provide natural gas during an extreme cold snap. As reported on this website, company officials urged customers to lower thermostats while they worked to restore service.
Yesterday, CE submitted a report to the Michigan Public Service Commission detailing their two-month investigation. According to the company, the causes were: “a plume of natural gas released by the safety fire-gate system was the fuel source; air outside of the plant mixed with the natural gas due to high winds; and extremely hot equipment caused the natural gas-air mixture to ignite.”
The company also says they found “no evidence of failure to properly maintain our equipment.” They add the “fire at the Ray Station was precipitated by a safety venting fire-gate process that is proven safe and effective. However, under unique and extreme weather conditions, the process became hazardous. We plan to address the issue at the Ray Compressor Station and implement new procedures across our natural gas fleet to further enhance resiliency and help avoid failure in these extraordinary circumstances.”
In their news release, CE notes the Michigan Public Service Commission will independently analyze the cause of the fire and CE’s subsequent response.