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MICHIGAN'S MAJOR UTILITIES ANNOUNCE IMPROVED PERFORMANCE OF FISH BARRIER NET AT LUDINGTON PLANT

       MICHIGAN'S MAJOR UTILITIES ANNOUNCE IMPROVED PERFORMANCE
                 OF FISH BARRIER NET AT LUDINGTON PLANT
    LUDINGTON, Mich., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Power Company and The Detroit Edison Company today announced dramatic improvement in the 1991 performance of a protective fish barrier net at the Ludington Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant.  Citing an overall effectiveness in keeping 84 percent of all fish from entering the plant's water-intake area this year, the utilities maintain that the protective net should be utilized as a permanent solution for significantly reducing fish losses at the facility.  The net is placed in Lake Michigan from April to October to keep fish from entering the plant's water-intake area.
    "To permanently resolve the Ludington fish-loss matter, we propose to operate the net each year from mid-April to mid-October at an annual cost of about $3 million and provide $50,000 annually for increased stocking of salmon smolts to mitigate those fish losses that can't be avoided," said David W. Joos, Consumers Power's vice president of energy supply services.  "In lieu of fisherman access to the plant's jetties, the utilities will also propose to provide $180,000 to the State of Michigan for development of recreational facilities in the Ludington area and $20,000 annually to operate them," Joos added.
    In a draft report which will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the utilities describe the net's third- year effectiveness and conclude that their permanent solution provides for more than full mitigation of fish losses at the Ludington facility. The draft report is being sent to an advisory committee which includes the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, National Wildlife Federation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for their review.  Comments from these organizations, and the final report, will be submitted before the end of the year to FERC, which regulates the Ludington facility.
    Improvements in the barrier net design this year enhanced its overall effectiveness to more than 84 percent, more than double its effectiveness in 1990.  Improved performance in 1991 is attributed to the fact that the net's integrity was continuous through most of the year, the only exception being a brief breach resulting from floating debris during a late September storm, the report said.  In its first year of operation in 1989, the net kept out 30 percent of all fish. Second-year design enhancements and lessons learned helped improve the net's performance to 37 percent effectiveness.
    The barrier net proved effective in keeping out 91 percent of all alewives, the most abundant species found in Lake Michigan near the plant.  The net also kept out 78 percent of yellow perch and 67 percent of salmon and trout.
    The net, nearly 2.5 miles in length, made of kevlar and nylon mesh at a cost of $1.5 million, was installed in April 1991 and removed in late October.  It was secured to the bottom of Lake Michigan by a heavy chain and 65 fixed anchors driven 10 feet into the lake bed.
    The report evaluates the only other alternative for minimizing Ludington plant fish losses that has been seriously discussed, a rock rubble mound barrier located in Lake Michigan.  The report states that this alternative is impractical, environmentally questionable and inordinately expensive.  The utilities estimate this alternative would cost Michigan electric customers more than an additional $1 billion in their electric bills over the remaining life of the Ludington facility.
    The Ludington plant is a major power resource for Michigan, providing low-cost electricity for homes and businesses throughout the state.  At night when electric demand is low, water is pumped from Lake Michigan upward into the plant's 1.3-square-mile reservoir.  The water is released through hydroelectric generating turbines to produce electricity during the day when demand is high.  The Ludington facility, co-owned by Consumers Power and Detroit Edison, is operated by Consumers Power.
    Consumers Power and Detroit Edison serve more than 3.4 million electric customers throughout Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
    -0-                    11/15/91
    /CONTACT:  Kelly Farr of Consumers Power, 517-788-2394; or Lorie Kessler of Detroit Edison, 313-237-8807/
    (CMS DTE) CO:  Consumers Power Company; The Detroit Edison Company ST:  Michigan IN:  UTI SU: ML -- DE003 -- 1366 11/15/91 08:47 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 15, 1991
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