LUDINGTON — A Ludington company, Hardman Construction Inc., has completed a key project — improving a Lake Michigan barge dock — needed for the $800 million upgrade of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant.
The barge dock improvement paves the way for additional preparations necessary for receiving shipments of six new turbine runners, each weighing 290 tons, for the upgrade project. That project is scheduled to begin in 2013 and run through 2019. After it is completed, the upgrade is expected to add 300 megawatts to the current 1,872 megawatts capacity of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant.
“This efficiency upgrade of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is a good value for electric customers of DTE Energy and Consumers Energy,” said project engineer Brian Zatloukal. “The plant will help us to meet customer demand at key times, while simultaneously enhancing our ability to balance the fluctuating output of increasing numbers of wind turbines within the renewable energy segment of our energy portfolios.”
A manager for Hardman Construction, Marty Gamble, said the two-month dock project provided an economic boost 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, while simultaneously increasing its water pumping capability. Electricians, welders, crane operators, pipefitters, millwrights and carpenters will be in demand for the project.
The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is co-owned by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, which both support the Pure Michigan Business Connect Initiative. That initiative is designed to encourage Michigan companies to do more businesses with other Michigan companies.
The state’s two largest utilities each committed to purchasing an additional $250 million in products and services from Michigan companies over five years. The contract with Hardman Construction is part of that commitment to make further investments in Michigan to create jobs and boost the state’s economy.
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 customer electric demand, the water is released through turbines to generate electricity. The plant currently produces enough 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.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties. More at www.consumersenergy.com.
DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units are Detroit Edison, an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, and MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on gas pipelines and storage, coal transportation, unconventional gas production and power and industrial projects. Information about DTE Energy is available at www.dteenergy.com.