Extreme Weather Highlights Urgent Need for Energy Infrastructure Updates Across Midwest

Thursday, January 31, 2019

LANSING, MI – Frigid temperatures across the Upper Midwest have put an even greater strain on already stressed and outdated energy infrastructure. In Michigan last night, more than 1.8 million Consumers Energy ratepayers received urgent notifications asking all households to reduce their thermostats to 65 degrees or lower due to a natural gas shortage caused by a fire at a gas compressor station in Macomb County. In Minnesota, Xcel Energy asked customers to keep their thermostats at 63 degrees or lower, after 150 customers lost natural gas service.

“The voluntary energy rationing we’re all being asked to participate in highlights the urgent need for long overdue updates to our energy infrastructure,” said Mary Brady-Enerson, Michigan Director for Clean Water Action. “For too long, we have relied on outdated, centralized energy sources like natural gas and coal instead of aggressively pursuing renewable energy sources and the sort of decentralized infrastructure that renewables demand. Decentralizing our energy grid and pursuing renewable alternatives like wind and solar power are not only necessary to fight climate change, but will also make our infrastructure more resilient as extreme weather events like this one occur with increased frequency as climate change progresses. Today, Governor Whitmer requested a review of the state’s energy supply and preparedness, and we applaud this excellent first step. We call on Lansing policymakers to follow our Governor’s lead and work to ensure the integrity and stability of our energy grid and pursue a rapid transition to renewable energy sources which will make our grid more resilient for the storms to come.”

“We’re feeling the impacts of the climate crisis now. Severe storms and extreme events like this will only become more frequent, with more devastating impacts, in coming years, " said Deanna White, Minnesota Director for Clean Water Action. “Today, we call on Governor Walz, Governor Whitmer, and elected leaders across the Great Lakes region to learn from this experience and work together to rapidly increase our investments in renewable energy and rebuild our outdated energy infrastructure."

Recent IPCC and federal studies are clear: we have to act now. Bold decisions are needed to decarbonize power grids and invest in renewable energy sources. The polar vortex and deep freeze across the Midwest is another reminder that we need strong local and state leadership to fill the vacuum created by the federal pull back on climate action.


Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress.

Michael Kelly