Ludington Pumped Storage Facility Close To Finishing Massive Upgrade
Fifty years ago, the Ludington Pumped Storage Facility, the largest power plant of its kind in North America, was built for just under $400 million.
“The Ludington Pumped Storage Facility is one of the greatest engineering marvelS in the world,” says Patti Poppe, CEO and president of Consumers Energy, who owns the facility with DTE Energy.
After 50 years, it’s time for an upgrade and right now, after 13 years of renovation, the last of six major turbines are being revamped with state of the art technology.
“We planned for 30 years but we had 50,” says Poppe, So we have some cushion on the back end.”
The entire plant is essentially one giant battery. In the middle of the night, they’ll pump water up from Lake Michigan and then hold onto that stored energy until it is needed. It’ll flow back down through the turbines, creating the largest power plant in the state.
“When you release the water, you get carbon free, clean energy to deliver electricity,” says Poppe.
Five of the six turbines are fully done, the entire project should be finished by next summer.
“Every unit is going through an overhaul of all of its equipment,” says Poppe, “We have 500,000 horsepower motors. Each unit is the largest motor in the world and we have six of them.”
Already a very clean energy, the new turbines are more efficient and more powerful.
“The upgrade added 50 megawatts per unit so we have an extra 300 MW production coming, or we will when we are finished,” says Poppe.
They have needed every megawatt. Summer time energy demands mixed with the pandemic has the plant draining and filling the reservoir daily and it hasn’t missed a beat.
“They keep those electrons flowing every single day,” says Poppe, “They didn’t miss a single day through all of COVID.”