Consumers, DTE in early stages of Ludington upgrade, uprate

In the 2011-2019 period, Consumers Energy will invest in a major overhaul and upgrade of the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, with Consumers to pick up 51% of the cost based on its ownership share, and DTE Electric to pick up the other 49%.

David B. Kehoe, the Consumers Energy Director of Staff, Energy Resources Business Services, said in Dec. 5 rate testimony filed at the Michigan Public Service Commission that the first unit upgrade began in 2013 and is to be completed in 2014. One additional unit will be upgraded each year, with the final unit being completed in 2019 (Ludington has six generating/pumping units). When complete, Ludington’s total capacity will increase 300 MW (50 MW per unit), and future overhauls will be scheduled every 30 years instead of every 20 years.

The Consumers Energy 51% share of the facility represents 955 MW of current capacity.

“This will be only the second overhaul at Ludington since production began in 1973,” Kehoe noted. “Also, Ludington’s operating license expires in 2019. Because the operating condition of the plant is an important factor in FERC’s relicensing decision, it is better to have the plant in good condition before the license expires, as opposed to after the relicensing process is complete.”

All major components of the generating/pumping units at Ludington have been redesigned and will be replaced – water turbine (aka – runner), wicket gates, generator, and stator. This new equipment will be manufactured using materials intended to lengthen operating life, reduce operating costs, and improve operating efficiencies.

Changes are being made to the existing facilities and new structures are being constructed. Changes to the existing facilities include replacement of the old gantry crane with two new gantry cranes and new instrumentation for operating and monitoring the six generating/pumping units. Also, two on-site machine shops were constructed to support the tooling and machining requirements of the project.

The Ludington project’s overhaul and upgrade is estimated to cost $800m. Consumers Energy is responsible for 51% of this cost. The overhaul portion of the Ludington project is estimated to be $600m. The installed cost of Ludington’s additional capacity will be $666/kW.

The decision to upgrade Ludington during the 20-year maintenance cycle was made because the units would already be disassembled for maintenance. Once the units had been disassembled, upgrades could be achieved by simply replacing old parts/equipment with new parts/equipment that incorporate the latest in designs and materials.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.