Michigan utility completes turbine upgrade at 33-MW Hardy

Consumers Energy announced March 9 it completed installation of a new hydropower turbine at 33-MW Hardy Dam on Michigan’s Muskegon River.

Consumers replaced the original 1930 turbine in Unit 3 and rewound the unit’s generator. The new turbine is capable of producing 11.4 MW, up from 10.8 MW. The project’s total capacity following the upgrade is 33 MW.

Installation of the new turbine began in May 2008 as part of an upgrade that cost about $5 million.

The new turbine has the added benefit of improving dissolved oxygen levels in the plant’s outflow, enhancing the downstream fish habitat, the utility said. The turbine draws in air as the force of the water spins it, increasing dissolved oxygen in the outflow water.

Hardy (No. 2452) is the largest energy producer in Consumer Energy’s 13-plant conventional hydro fleet, which totals 132 MW and includes plants on the Au Sable, Manistee, Muskegon, Grand, and Kalamazoo rivers. Hardy generates an average of 95,000 MWh each year, enough to meet the annual power needs of about 12,200 customers.

�Renewable hydropower remains one of Michigan’s most important homegrown energy sources to serve the needs of customers,� Bill Schoenlein, Consumer Energy’s manager of hydro generation, said. �We’ve demonstrated that here at Hardy by investing in a new turbine that produces more energy from the same water flow while also benefitting fish by improving oxygen content in the water downstream of the plant.�

In addition to completing the Unit 3 upgrade, Consumers announced it is studying potential upgrades at its other hydropower plants to help reach a state-mandated renewables portfolio standard.

An energy package signed into law in 2008 requires that 10 percent of the state’s energy come from renewable sources such as conventional hydropower and hydrokinetics by 2015. (HNN 10/9/08) The package also requires that Consumers Energy, a subsidiary of CMS Energy, build or buy 200 MW of new renewable energy capacity by 2013, and 500 MW by 2015.

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