Polar vortex shutters 13 GM facilities temporarily
General Motors' Flint Assembly plant was one of 13 facilities shuttered by cold weather during the polar vortex.
Photo courtesy of General Motors

Polar vortex shutters 13 GM facilities temporarily

Natural gas conservation plan leads to shutdowns throughout Detroit metropolitan area.

February 1, 2019

Detroit, Michigan – It wasn’t just schools and government offices shut down by the polar vortex weather event. General Motors shuttered 13 plants on Wednesday and Thursday because the utility company serving those locations in the Detroit area for the automaker’s health.

Consumers Energy, one of two major utilities serving southeast Michigan, asked several businesses to curtail natural gas and electricity as temperatures dropped below zero so it could prioritize keeping the heat on for residents.

Plants closed were:

  • Bay City Powertrain
  • Orion Assembly
  • Pontiac Stamping
  • Flint Assembly
  • Flint Stamping
  • Flint Engine
  • Flint Tool & Die
  • Lansing Delta Township Assembly
  • Lansing Grand River Assembly
  • Lansing Regional Stamping
  • Lansing Grand River Stamping
  • Saginaw Metal Casting Operations
  • Warren Transmission
  • Warren GM Tech Center
  • Pontiac Engineering
  • Grand Blanc Customer Care Aftersales HQ

Office workers were told to work from home, but even that might not have offered a reprieve from the weather. Consumers Energy encouraged consumers to lower their thermostats to conserve natural gas because of the sudden jump in consumption during the weather event.

According to news reports, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) also shut down plants during the cold snap. Plants served by DTE, Detroit’s other major utility, were not affected.

Some GM operations resumed at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Restart times varied by location. The automaker recommended that office workers continue working from home Friday.

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 18 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.