PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — A 336-ton turbine from the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant made the better part of its journey to a concrete display pedestal about 100 yards away on Saturday.
It didn’t quite make it all the way to its destination due to delays and a lack of daylight hours, but it should be set up by Monday afternoon.
The turbine — referred to as a “runner” by crews on the scene — is being put on display as a monument to the magnitude of the pumped storage facility, which generates power through a hydroelectric process. The display is meant to give residents and visitors a better idea of the sheer enormity of the operation, and what it takes to provide electricity to so many households.
“That’s the bottom of our unit. It’s what turns the whole unit to start power,” Mike Judd, one of the Consumers Energy workers supervising the transfer, said of the turbine.
A work crew from Consumers Energy — which co-owns the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant with DTE Energy — spent most of Saturday securing the massive runner, fastening it onto a trailer and hauling it across the road and just to the north of the facility, where a parking lot on east side of Lakeshore Drive surrounds a concrete base that will soon be the runner’s new home.
Workers finished up the day by getting the turbine as close as possible to the base, and out of the way of traffic.
There were some last-minute changes of plan to the transport process. It was originally supposed to take place on Friday. Then it was scheduled to get moving at noon on Saturday. Though workers were preparing for the transport all day, it didn’t truly get underway until mid-afternoon.
At around 3:30 p.m., the turbine could be seen making its slow way out of the pumped storage plant and down the road. A few passersby stopped to take photos of the process.
By the time it had been hauled down the road and into the parking lot where the concrete base is housed, it was nearing 4 p.m., and the crew was running short on time.
“We’ll do the rest of the move … put it on the pedestal on Monday,” Judd said as the turbine was inching out of the roadway and into the lot.
Judd said some of the equipment needed to transport the runner came to Ludington from Pennsylvania, and traffic backups contributed to the wait.
“We were supposed to get it (Friday), we didn’t get them here until (Saturday), so it’s a little bit of a delay,” Judd said. “We’re gonna run out of daylight, so we’ll finish the move on Monday.”
Judd said the runner is one of the old models from the pumped storage plant, which uses six at a time to generate hydroelectric power from a reservoir. The facility now has new models — which are nine-bladed and stainless steel — so Consumers and DTE decided to erect one of the older ones to give folks a look at a piece of the plant’s history.
“It’ll be nice. The community can have a look and see exactly the sheer size (of) what it takes to turn the lights on. And kids can come take a peek at it,” Judd said. “We’ll have a sign with the verbiage about what it does and how long it was in service.”
Judd said workers are expected to arrive first thing Monday morning to complete the set-up. The 672,000-pound turbine should be in place by late morning or early afternoon.