Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant

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Ludington Pumped Storage Plant
Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant is located in Michigan
Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant
Location of Ludington Pumped Storage Plant in Michigan
CountryUnited States
LocationLudington, Michigan
Coordinates43°53′37″N 86°26′43″W / 43.89361°N 86.44528°W / 43.89361; -86.44528Coordinates: 43°53′37″N 86°26′43″W / 43.89361°N 86.44528°W / 43.89361; -86.44528
Construction beganJuly, 1968
Opening date1973
Construction cost$327 million (1973)[1]
Owner(s)Consumers Energy (51%)
Detroit Edison (49%)
Upper dam and spillways
Type of damEmbankment dam
Height (foundation)103 feet (31 m)
Length6 miles (9.7 km)
Width (crest)21 feet (6.4 m)[2]
Upper reservoir
Total capacity82,860 acre-feet (102,210,000 m3)
Active capacity52,171 acre-feet (64,352,000 m3)
Inactive capacity30,689 acre-feet (37,854,000 m3)
Surface area842 acres (341 ha)
Maximum length2.5 miles (4.0 km)
Maximum width1 mile (1.6 km)
Maximum water depth110 feet (34 m)
Lower reservoir
CreatesLake Michigan
Total capacity1,180 cubic miles (4,900 km3)
Surface area22,404 square miles (58,030 km2)
Maximum length307 miles (494 km)
Maximum width118 miles (190 km)
Normal elevation577 feet (176 m)
Power Station
Coordinates43°53′37″N 86°26′43″W / 43.89361°N 86.44528°W / 43.89361; -86.44528
Commission date1973
Hydraulic head363 feet (111 m)[3]
Pump-generators6 × 362 MW (455 MVA) Francis pump-turbines[5][6]
Installed capacity2,172 MW [4]
Overall efficiency70%
Storage capacity9 hours (19,548 MWh)
2016 generation-752 GW·h

The Ludington Pumped Storage Plant is a hydroelectric plant and reservoir in Ludington, Michigan. It was built between 1969 and 1973 at a cost of $315 million and is owned jointly by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy and operated by Consumers Energy. At the time of its construction, it was the largest pumped storage hydroelectric facility in the world.


Detail of the turbines when first constructed.

It consists of a reservoir 110 feet (34 m) deep, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long, and one mile (1.6 km) wide which holds 27 billion US gallons (100 Gl) or 82859 acre-feet of water. The 1.3-square-mile (3.4 km2) reservoir is located on the banks of Lake Michigan. Because impervious bedrock is more than 800 feet (240 m) below the reservoir, the builders had to line the reservoir with a layer of asphalt and clay to prevent water seeping into the ground.

The power plant consists of six reversible turbines that can each generate 312 megawatts of electricity for a total output of 1,872 megawatts.[7] Water is delivered from the upper reservoir to the turbines by six penstocks each 1,100 feet (340 m) long that taper from 28 to 24 feet (8.5 to 7.3 m) in diameter.

At night, during low demand for electricity, the turbines run in reverse to pump water 363 feet (111 m) uphill from Lake Michigan into the reservoir. The plant takes advantage of the natural steep sand dune landform of eastern Lake Michigan. During periods of peak demand water is released to generate power. Electrical generation can begin within two minutes with peak electric output of 1872 MW achieved in under 30 minutes. Maximum water flow is over 33 million US gallons (120,000 m3) per minute.

This process was designed to level the load of nearby nuclear power plants on the grid. It also replaces the need to build natural gas peak power plants used only during high demand. The Ludington Pumped Storage plant is connected to six 345-kV Transmission lines, all owned and maintained by METC, a subsidiary of ITC Holdings.

The project was given the 1973 award for "Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement" by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[8]


Consumers Energy discussed plans in 2008 to extend the life of the facility and upgrade the pumps to increase efficiency by up to 9%.[9] Consumers Energy also planned to tap the wind power resources along the eastern Lake Michigan shore with wind farms.[9] Because wind is an intermittent power source and may inconveniently deliver large amounts of power during periods of low electric demand, pumped storage facilities are desirable to have on the same grid with large-scale wind farms. The available pumped storage capacity, along with the wind characteristics, partly determine the maximum contribution wind power can make to the overall electricity use in a region.

Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison announced an $800 million upgrade on February 7, 2011. The six-year project would begin in 2013 and extend the plant's life by at least forty years and upgrade the generating capacity from 1,872 megawatts to 2,172 megawatts.[10] Plans for the upgrade include replacing all six of the plant's turbines, which would increase the plant's total generating capacity by 15 percent, and efficiency by 5 percent. Upon completion, the plant will produce enough power for a community of 1.65 million (a quarter million increase).[11] As of August 2020, five of the six turbines had been successfully replaced; the project is expected to be completed in May or June 2021.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ludington Pumped Storage Upgrade & Overhaul" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  2. ^ Browning, Edgar A. (29 January 2017). "Looking Back: Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant". (Northeast Edition). Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  3. ^ Maclam, Doug (1 October 2015). "Ludington Pumped Storage Plant Increases Efficiency to Provide Greater Grid Support". POWER Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  4. ^ Network, Michael McCluskey / Energy News. "Michigan utilities upgrade pumped storage plant ahead of renewable push". Energy News Network. Retrieved 2020-01-30.
  5. ^ Ray, Matthew; Toro, Keith; Kaneda, Hironari; Hyuga, Takeshi (11 November 2016). "Major Overhaul Boosts Performance at Ludington Pumped-Storage Plant". Hydro Review. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Overhaul at Ludington - International Water Power". International Water Power & Dam Construction. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  7. ^ Ludington Pumped Storage Archived 2013-10-23 at the Wayback Machine, website.
  8. ^ "Past Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Awards". American Society of Civil Engineers. Archived from the original on 2008-10-10.
  9. ^ a b Alexander, Dave (2008-04-12). "Shoreline generates interest in power". The Muskegon Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
  10. ^ "Consumers Energy, Detroit Edison announce $800 million upgrade of Ludington Pumped Storage Facility". Ludington Daily News. 2011-02-07. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  11. ^ "Ludington Pumped Storage Plant Recognized For 40 Years Of Service To Customers And Michigan". PR Newswire.
  12. ^ Lloyd, Eric (2020-08-11). "Ludington Pumped Storage Facility Close To Finishing Massive Upgrade". Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  13. ^ Bossick, David (2020-10-29). "Turbine upgrade project delayed at Ludington Pumped Storage Plant". Ludington Daily News. Retrieved 2020-12-10.

External links[edit]