By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors Co said late Wednesday it will suspend operations at 11 Michigan plants and its Warren Tech Center, after a utility made an emergency appeal to users to conserve natural gas during extreme winter cold.
The largest U.S. automaker said it had been asked by Consumers Energy, a unit of CMS Energy Corp <CMS.N>, to suspend operations to allow the utility to manage supply issues.
GM said workers were told not to report for the shifts at its Orion Assembly, Flint Assembly, Lansing Delta Township Assembly and Lansing Grand River Assembly plants, as well as other stamping and transmission plants.
Workers at its Warren Tech Center were also told to stay home Thursday.
In a video message posted on Facebook, CMS Energy Chief Executive Patricia Poppe said large companies, including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <FCHA.MI>, Ford Motor Co <F.N> and GM, had agreed to “interrupt” production schedules through Friday to tackle the issue prompted by a fire at a Michigan facility and the record-breaking cold.
Ford and Fiat Chrysler did not immediately comment.
Poppe said the cuts by large businesses were not enough, and urged Michigan residents to turn down thermostats as much as they could and cut natural gas use to protect critical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer echoed the call.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)