Most of us who call Michigan “home” have a spot somewhere in the state that has a special meaning. It’s usually a place where family, natural beauty, our professions, or a source of adventure have combined to create something that speaks to us. For Bill Schoenlein, that particular place is just South of Ludington’s sand dunes and quaint downtown, where the Great Lakes provide something that most of us don’t think about very often... power.
The unique shoreline geography of this area is just right for one of Michigan’s best-kept clean-energy secrets and a little-known engineering marvel, the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant.
Bill is one of many Consumers Energy employees who operate and maintain this complex, the fifth largest of its kind in the world. On any given day, Bill and his coworkers do everything from control the six massive turbines, check on wildlife habitat, and monitor the reservoir at the top of a bluff hundreds of feet above Lake Michigan. Thanks to their expertise, the facility has been providing clean, affordable energy to Michigan’s residents for over 40 years.
These days, however, there is a bit more excitement going on as the facility undergoes its first major upgrade. When completed in 2020, the $800 million overhaul will have supported hundreds of Michigan jobs and will be capable of delivering over 2,000 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power a city 7 times the size of Grand Rapids.
So next time you are driving along Lakeshore Drive, take a minute to stop by our Observation Areas to overlook the 27 billion gallon reservoir, the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the Ludington North Breakwater. Who knows…maybe for just a few minutes, this will be your new favorite spot, too.