Key Milestone Reached in Ludington Pumped Storage Plant Upgrade

Ludington Pumped Storage Plant

We recently reached another milestone in our $800 million upgrade of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant. Last week Ludington based  Hardman Construction Inc. completed improvements to the Lake Michigan barge dock which is an important step in preparations necessary for receiving shipments of six new turbine runners, each weighing 290 tons.

The upgrade project is scheduled to begin in 2013 and run through 2019. After its completion, the upgrade is expected to add 300 megawatts to the current 1,872 megawatts capacity of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant.

Project engineer Brian Zatloukal explains that the Ludington plant helps meet customer demand at key times. “It enhances our ability to balance the fluctuating output of increasing numbers of wind turbines within the renewable energy segment,” he said.

A manager for Hardman Construction, Marty Gamble, was pleased with the economic boost the project provided for his company and its employees. “The strong economic benefit from this major project at the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is coming at a time when it’s been really tight for a lot of local businesses. Plus, being able to work close to home is always a bonus for our employees,” Gamble said.

An estimated 100 outside workers will be employed at the site from 2013 through 2019 to install equipment to increase the output of the plant as well as increasing its water pumping capability. Electricians, welders, crane operators, pipefitters, millwrights and carpenters will be in demand for the project.

You may not be aware that we own the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant along with DTE Energy. The contract with Hardman Construction supports the commitment of both companies to make further investments in Michigan as part of the Pure Michigan Business Connect Initiative.  That initiative is designed to encourage Michigan companies to do more businesses with other Michigan companies. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have each committed to purchase an additional $250 million in products and services from Michigan companies over five years. 

DTE Energy project manager Dave Sonntag said Hardman Construction completed the dock project ahead of schedule and under budget.  “It’s a great first step for an $800 million project that will provide significant benefits to the state and its electric customers,” he said.  “This overhaul and upgrade project will improve the efficiency of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, increase its role in the state’s renewable energy expansion, and ensure that the plant will continue to contribute to the local and state economy for decades to come.”

The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant pumps water during the night uphill 372 feet to its 27 billion gallon reservoir. During day-time periods of peak electric demand, the water is released through turbines which can generate enough electricity to power a community of 1.4 million. The upgrade will enable the facility to meet the electric demand of a community of 1.65 million, while the increased water pumping efficiency will further reduce the plant’s operating costs. 

The American Society of Engineers honored the Ludington plant as the Outstanding Engineering Achievement of 1973. Separately, the plant was named one of Michigan’s Top 10 civil engineering projects for the 20th century by the Michigan section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.