Barrier nets damaged: Meteotsunami, seiche damaged fish barrier at pumped storage plant

July 15, 2018

The April 13 meteotsunami that washed over the Ludington North Breakwater into Stearns Park and pushed Lake Michigan water as far onshore as Stearns Park Drive, damaged docks in Manistee and washed along the coast from at least Manistee County through Oceana County, also was noted at Ludington Pumped Storage Plant, where the fish barrier net was damaged and debris washed ashore.

The plant is jointly owned by Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison. The incident prompted Consumers, which operates the plant, to file a report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which licenses the facility.

The hydropower units were not generating at the time. When the meteotsunami wave came on shore, it raised the water level seven feet at the plant. As the wave receded, sucking water from shore, it dropped 8 feet below the day’s normal level — a swing of 15 feet in a matter of about five minutes. The power generating units remained offline for another four hours as the meteotsunami was followed by a seiche, with water sloshing across Lake Michigan and back during the weekend.

According to Perry Lyford-Stojic, dam safety engineer, while there was no damage to the generation units, debris had to be cleaned up, including from the lower parking area. He was unable to answer if the generating units could have been damaged if they had been in operation.

“We had concluded operations for that morning, before the event occurred,” he said. “Out of an abundance of caution,” he said, the company didn’t make the power generation units available again while significant swings in water levels continued until about 4 p.m.

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