This is the kind of “clean” energy facility that I like to hear about! It has been operating in Michigan for decades, and this is the first I have ever hear of it.
According to the Consumers Energy company:
The massive undertaking of constructing the generating plant began in 1969.
Longtime Ludington locals still refer to the facility as “The Project.” It was the largest pumped storage facility in the world when it was built and took two years to bulldoze the 2.5 miles long, one mile wide, 840-acre reservoir that measures over 100 feet deep and can hold 27 billion gallons of water. When opening for operation in 1972, it was the largest pumped storage facility in the world and remains to be one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in terms of capacity in the United States.
Considered a modern marvel, The American Society of Civil Engineers awarded the project the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement in 1973, and it was named one of the top 10 civil engineering projects of the 20th century in Michigan. At the time, the facility cost about $327 million to build, which is roughly $2.7 billion today when calculating for inflation.
Ludington Pumped Storage is a hydroelectric power plant that uses stored water at elevation to function like a battery. When electricity demand is low, the large reservoir above Lake Michigan is filled with water through six large pipes 28 feet in diameter, called penstocks, each equipped with a reversible pump turbine. It takes about nine hours to move enough water from Lake Michigan to fill the reservoir.
With a 2,292-megawatt capacity, the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant can power a city with a population of approximately 1.4 million people for about eight hours.
The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant can be activated quickly to begin producing power when demand rises.
A large-scale project is taking place to increase the generating capacity of the plant by replacing the original six turbines, increasing the generating capacity of each unit by 50 megawatts for a total increase of 300 megawatts. In addition, the new units reduce the time to fill the reservoir and reduce the frequency of scheduled outages.