LUDINGTON (WWJ) — It’s an engaging mix of high tech and low tech — a huge man-made lake along Lake Michigan where electric pumps suck water in at night, when electric demand is low, and where the water is released back out into the big lake in the afternoons, generating electricity when demand is at its peak.

The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is turning 40 years old, and officials from Lansing and Washington are bringing gifts to the party.

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The award-winning plant is being recognized for providing reliable and low-cost power, saving Michigan’s electric customers millions of dollars compared to other sources.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Sen. Goeff Hansen (R-Hart) and Rep. Ray Franz (R-Hart) signed a special tribute in Lansing to commemorate the plant’s 40th anniversary. Rep. Franz personally delivered the tribute to the plant today where utility employees and their families celebrated with a tour of the facilities.

In addition, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) made a floor statement that was printed in the Congressional Record last week in Washington, D.C., congratulating employees on the accomplishment at the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant. Rep. Huizenga also videotaped a message of congratulations that played during today’s celebration, and one of Huizenga’s staff members presented a copy of the Congressional Record to the Ludington Pumped Storage plant manager.

“We are deeply honored to receive this recognition for Ludington Pumped Storage from legislators in Lansing and Washington,” said William Schoenlein, manager of hydro and renewable generation and plant manager of Ludington Pumped Storage. “Our employees are certainly proud of what we’ve accomplished, and continued investments we are making in the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant to serve Michigan residents with safe, affordable energy should ensure we will be celebrating more milestone achievements in the decades to come.”

In its 40th year, Ludington Pumped Storage began the process of an $800 million upgrade, which includes the replacement of its six turbines with more efficient models. The six-year project will increase the plant’s generating capacity by 15 percent and its efficiency by 5 percent. Once the overhaul is complete, the plant will be able to produce enough electricity to power a community of 1.65 million, up from 1.4 million currently.

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The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is co-owned by Consumers Energy and DTE Electric, and operated by Consumers Energy. The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant pumps water during the night uphill 363 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.

In his video message, and in his floor statement, Huizenga thanked Consumers Energy and DTE Electric for serving as a successful co-ownership example and for saving their customers millions of dollars per year by displacing higher-cost generation.

“Congratulations to the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant for 40 years of excellent performance and for enhancing the Ludington area and all of Michigan,” said Huizenga.

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. It has won national awards for safe operation, and has been certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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DTE Energy is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include DTE Electric, an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, DTE Gas, a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on gas storage and pipelines, power and industrial projects, and energy trading.