Batteries power everything in our homes from TV remotes to cell phones, but how about a battery powering more than a million people? Known as Consumers Energy’s “Big Battery,” Ludington Pumped Storage delivers affordable, safe and reliable electricity to serve more than 1.4 million customers. As you may have imagined, our battery is a little larger than the ones powering your devices.
Ludington Pumped Storage is unique because it relies on pumped storage rather than the natural movement of water in a river. The facility works by pumping water uphill to its 27-billion gallon reservoir during the night when energy costs are low and releasing the low cost stored energy through turbines to generate electricity during the day when energy costs rise, saving our customers money. The facility plays an increasingly important role in producing reliable energy during off-peak hours and filling the unpredictable gaps from wind energy.
In order to go from serving 1.4 million customers to 1.65 million customers, each of the six 300-ton turbines at Ludington Pumped Storage are being replaced, allowing the plant to operate at a higher capacity and efficiency than ever before in its 42-year history. “We have replaced one turbine already and getting close to installing a second,” said Eric Gustad, public affairs area manager, of the six-year project. “Each turbine will raise the plant’s capacity for generating and pumping. There have been some lessons learned along the way to make it more efficient to replace them. It’s not an easy undertaking.”
Consumers Energy operates and owns 51 percent of the plant and Detroit Edison owns 49 percent. Each company has pledged to invest $40 million per year for 10 years, which will create 100 jobs a year for six years.