A cornucopia of ideas for improving plant safety, operations

Personnel at gas-turbine-based powerplants face chal­lenges daily that some oth­ers in the electric-generation sector might not experience even once in an entire career. The typical 2 × 1 F-class combined cycle produces a nominal 500 MW with two-dozen or fewer employees—barely enough to respond to the dispatch demands of grid operators who rely on GTs to assure system reliability.

Keeping three generating units operating in synch requires the full attention of all hands, leaving precious little time to think about improvements that might boost effi­ciency, starting reliability, availabil­ity; reduce emissions; and make the plant a safer workplace.

1. 2011 Best Practices Awards
Enter today while the accomplishments of plant personnel are fresh in your mind

One way to get management’s attention long enough to appreciate the contributions you and your co-workers are making on a daily basis is to win an industry award. The Best Practices Awards program conducted by the COMBINED CYCLE Journal, and endorsed by the Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force (CTOTF), recognizes ideas implemented by plant personnel to increase reliability/availability, improve efficiency, reduce emissions, minimize accidents, etc. Such performance improvements are important to every owner and its management team.

To enter the 2011 Best Practices Awards competition, access the requirements/rules page at www.psimedia.info/bestpractices.htm.

The program supports work done in gas-turbine-powered combined-cycle, cogeneration, and peaking plants larger than 5 MW. There are seven awards categories: Management, Environmental Stewardship, Safety, Design, O&M Business, O&M Major Equipment, and O&M Balance of Plant.

Your entry should take no more than about two hours to prepare and e-mail to scott@psimedia.info. Photos and diagrams explaining the work done, plus a picture of your plant, are welcomed. The deadline is Dec 31, 2010, but don’t wait: Prepare the entry today, while the accomplishments are fresh in your mind.

Judging will be by a panel of experts from the CTOTF Leadership Committee.

That’s why user-group meetings are so valuable. They get you out of the plant and into an environment conducive to collective thinking and problem-solving. No one individual has all the answers. The Best Prac­tices Awards program complements the face-to-face discussions among users and the online bulletin boards offered by most groups for idea-shar­ing 24/7.

The awards program was launched six years ago by the COMBINED CYCLE Journal, in association with the Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force (CTOTF), the nation’s oldest user group serving owner/operators of gas-turbine-based gener­ating facilities.

The goal: Recognize the valuable contributions made by plant and headquarters staffs in improving the safety and performance of simple-cycle, cogeneration, and combined-cycle facilities (Sidebar 1). And in so doing, build a library of virtually timeless proven ideas for others to consider for implementation at their plants (Sidebar 2).

There are two levels of awards to recognize achievements at indi­vidual plants: Best Practices and the Best of the Best, as determined by the scores of judges selected from the CTOTF Leadership Commit­tee. Entries are evaluated based on real and measurable achieved busi­ness value, complexity of the issue, operations staff involvement, degree of coordination across plant and headquarters engineering and O&M groups, and duration of impact.

Seven judges reviewed entries from nearly four-dozen finalists this year—a record. Also noteworthy: More than half of the plants submit­ting entries this year had never par­ticipated in the program previously.

The judges included manage­ment personnel responsible for fleet-wide O&M planning and execution, plant managers, and aero and frame experts totaling well over a century of powerplant experience.

The traditional five award cate­gories—O&M, management, safety, design, and environmental steward­ship—were expanded this year to seven by splitting O&M, which rep­resents about half the entries, into three subcategories: Business, Major Equipment, and Balance of Plant.

Proof that no individual, plant, or company has a “lock” on the best ideas was clearly in evidence when the Best of the Best recipients were announced. No plant won more than one of the nine top awards (there were ties in two of the seven cat­egories: O&M Balance of Plant and O&M Business). And only one of the group, Tenaska Virginia Generating Station, had been awarded a Best of the Best previously. That was in 2006 for Management.

Dr Robert Mayfield’s Tenaska Virginia 3 × 1 combined cycle was one of the big winners this year, taking home the Best of the Best for Safety as well as Best Practices Awards in the O&M Major Equip­ment and Management categories.

That Mayfield’s team (Fig 1) has done an exceptional job in the area of safe work practices was in evidence the week after awards presentation when Virginia Dept of Labor and Industry Commissioner Courtney Malveaux announced publicly that the plant had been approved as a Star Worksite under Virginia’s Occu­pational Safety and Health Volun­tary Protection Program (VPP)—the highest level of recognition. A fitting certificate was issued by Virginia Governor Robert F McDonnell and the Star Worksite flag was presented to plant employees by Malveaux dur­ing a visit to the Scottsville facility.

In addition, Maintenance Man­ager Sam Graham, the 2010/2011 Chairman of the 7F Users Group, received a letter from US Senator Mark Warner (D-Va), which read in part:

“This certification is a testament to the pride you take in your community and in the Commonwealth of Virgin­ia. The VPP concept recognizes that enforcement alone can never fully achieve the objectives of the Occupa­tional Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Good safety management programs that go beyond OSHA standards can protect workers more effectively than simple compliance.”

Three other plants matched Tenaska Virginia’s “take” with three awards each:

  • Jack County Generating Facility, Brazos Electric Power Coopera­tive Inc, received one of two Best of the Bests in the O&M Bal­ance of Plant category, plus two Best Practices plaques. Opera­tions Supervisor Troy Cannon and Lead Water Plant Operator Ron­nie Johnson accepted the awards (Fig 2).
  • Klamath Cogeneration Plant, Iberdrola Renewables Inc, a peren­nial winner in the Best Practices competition, received Best Prac­tices Awards for Design, Man­agement, and Safety. Operations and Engineering Manager Bruce Willard accepted the hardware (Fig 3) while Plant Manager Ray Martens, a member of the 501F Users Group steering committee, remained at the plant to keep a GT major (with upgrades) on track.
  • Jasper Generating Station, South Carolina Electric & Gas Co, received Best Practices Awards for O&M Balance of Plant, Design, and Safe­ty. Plant Manager Steve Palmer accepted the plaques (Fig 4).

Tenaska Inc and its subsidiar­ies collectively garnered the most awards on a fleet basis. The suc­cesses of Covert and Tenaska Central Alabama Generating Stations, when added to the three awards presented to Tenaska Virginia, totaled two Best of the Best and four Best Practices Awards. Rich Evans, who accepted the Covert plant manager’s position only a few weeks prior to the dead­line for submitting award entries, came away with the Best of the Best for Design (Fig 5).

Robert Threlkeld, who manag­es Tenaska’s Central Alabama and Lindsay Hill Generating Stations, collected his facilities’ 16th award (Fig 6). The two plants, which have received at least one award between them every year since the program’s inception, failed to capture a Best of the Best for the second year running after receiving five in the first four years.

Second to Tenaska in terms of fleetwide success was NV Energy, which captured one of the two Best of the Bests for O&M Business as well as three Best Practices Awards. The successful entries came from the Walter M Higgins and Harry Allen Generating Stations (Fig 7).

Among the independent O&M companies serving at GT-based powerplants, NAES Corp had the greatest success by far. Seven facili­ties under contract to the Issaquah (Wash)-based company received a total of nine awards, including one Best of the Best. The plants recog­nized: Covert, New Harquahala, TermoEmcali, Blackhawk, Mustang, Wolf Hollow I, and Granite Ridge.

International participants. The Best Practices Awards program offi­cially recognized participants from outside North America in 2010. That decision was made in conjunction with one to begin mailing copies of the COMBINED CYCLE Journal to key personnel at all GT-based plants in the Western Hemisphere with this issue. Previously, the magazine was delivered only to generating facilities in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

2. How to access CTOTF’s Presentations Library

Information that can (1) help solve a nagging O&M problem, (2) improve availability, efficiency, safety, (3) reduce emissions, (4) assist in outage planning, etc, is readily accessible via the CTOTF’s Presentations Library, which is part of the organization’s Internet Bulletin Board Communications Service (IBBCS).

The library currently contains more than 260 presentations from meetings conducted from 2006 through spring 2010. While it’s true that CTOTF IBBCS might be the acronym to end all acronyms in this over-acronymed industry, it’s one you should commit to memory because it can “save your bacon.”

Further, given budget cuts, staff-size challenges, and generally unsympathetic management it’s difficult to get to all (any) of the meetings you want to attend. But user access to prepared remarks from CTOTF conferences is only a few mouse clicks away—after you register (it’s free). User is defined as a person employed by a company that owns and/or operates gas turbines, or has its first units under construction.

Here’s how to get your “library card” and access to CTOTF’s valuable bulletin-board service:
Access www.ctotf.org.

  • Click on the “New Member” button on the horizontal toolbar at the top of the page.
  • Complete and submit the online membership registration form.
  • Confirmation of your acceptance as a CTOTF member with full IBBCS privileges generally will be e-mailed to you within 72 hours.
  • As a member, go to www.ctotf.org, and click the flashing link “Free Online Bulletin Board Service.” Next, scroll down the page to “Presentation Library” and click on that link. Presentations are arranged in chronological order, by meeting, most recent first. So it’s easy to find any presentation referenced in the COMBINED CYCLE Journal.

When you click on a presentation, the first information that pops up is the complete title of that presentation, the name of the presenter, and an abstract. The PowerPoint slides are accessed by clicking the word “here” under the abstract—as directed. After you have reviewed a presentation, you may want additional information. Return to the abstract page and access the presenter’s website by clicking the link after his or her name.

Finally, if there’s a particular subject you want to know more about—say, borescope inspections—click on the search button at the top of the page and complete the pop-up form. A Google-like search engine will line up for your review all the material CTOTF has to offer. With these resources at your fingertips, there’s no reason not to keep up with what’s going on in the gas-turbine-based sector of the electric power industry.

Best Practices Awards were pre­sented to three plants outside the US: one each in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. Central de Ciclo Com­binado Saltillo, one of two Mexican facilities recognized in 2009, was successful again this year, in the O&M Balance of Plants category (Fig 8). Colombia’s TermoEmcali, a municipally owned plant oper­ated by NAES, and Brazil’s Arau­caria Power Station (Fig 9), each received Best Practices Awards for their O&M Business entries.

Sponsors. Finally, a tip of the hat to the sponsors, without whom an awards program of this magni­tude would not be possible: Advanced Turbine Support Inc, Dresser-Rand Leading Edge Turbine Technology Services, Gas Turbine Efficiency, Goose Creek Systems Inc, Hy-Pro Filtration, Jansen’s Aircraft Systems Controls Inc, KE-Burgmann USA Inc, NAES Corp, PSM-Power Sys­tems Mfg LLC, SmartSignal Corp, Turbine Energy Solutions, Wood Group GTS, Young & Franklin Inc, and Zokman Products Inc.

To dig deeper, you only need access to the Internet. Think of the inscriptions for the Best Practices Awards plaques that follow as an index to proven ideas that you can implement to improve plant opera­tions and better protect personnel. When you identify a promising idea, you can get more detail simply by accessing www.combinedcyclejour­nal.com/archives.html and clicking on 1Q/2010. Links to entries for each of the award categories are listed on the cover and only one mouse click away.

Want still more ideas? Go back to www.combinedcyclejournal.com/archives.html and click on the 1Q issues back to 2005.

Sometimes the information dis­seminated in the magazine is not suf­ficient for your needs. Mike Elmo of Goose Creek Systems, the company that organizes the CTOTF’s confer­ences, has created voice-over Pow­erPoint (VOPP) files for each of the 2010 Best of the Best recipients. The presentations, nominally 10 minutes long, are much better than silent slides, which often leave you guess­ing as to what the creator was trying to get across.

Access to the VOPP presentations (users only!) is through www.ctotf.org. Just log on to the site and access the Internet Bulletin Board Com­munications Service (IBBCS). Scroll down to the Presentation Library and locate the PowerPoint you’re looking for. Site registration is open to all GT owner/operators; just fol­low the directions in Sidebar 2 if you don’t currently have access.

Best of the Best recipients

O&M Balance of Plant

Ceredo Generating Station

American Electric Power Co

Development of a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet to guide safe and efficient response to protective relay operation is critical to personnel safety, plant availability, and NERC compliance (Fig 10).

Jack County Generating Facility

Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc

Development and implementation of an online boil-out procedure for the crystallizer in the plant’s zero-liquid discharge facility increased reliabili­ty and reduced the forced-outage rate for a critical piece of equipment.

O&M Business

Walter M Higgins Generating Station

NV Energy

Implementation of a grassroots, condition-based maintenance pro­gram identifies critical equipment for effective predictive and scheduled maintenance. Development of a work management strategy, re-evaluated monthly, ensures effective and timely maintenance.

Effingham County Power

Owned by Mackinaw Power Holdings LLC

Operated by CAMS

Modifications to outdated operating procedures and retraining of opera­tors helped to greatly reduce the costly monthly variance and imbal­ance charges set forth by the plant’s tolling agreement (Fig 11).

O&M Major Equipment

Desert Basin Generating Station

Salt River Project

Implementation of a working platform specifically designed for generator rotor removal increases personnel safety, reduces costs, and eliminates the pos­sibility of equipment damage during generator rewind outages (Fig 12).


Covert Generating Facility

Owned by New Covert Generating Company LLC

Operated by NAES Corp

Replacement of 45 unreliable motor-operated valves with a superior design effectively facilitates main­tenance while increasing reliability. New valves have experienced zero failures in five years (Fig 13).

Environmental Stewardship

Hopewell Cogeneration Facility

GDF Suez Energy North America

Plant staff developed and imple­mented new operating procedures to reduce NOx emissions on unit start­up by minimizing the amount of time the gas turbines run without steam injection. Results: Environmental benefits and a significant saving in NOx credits (Fig 14).


Bethlehem Energy Center and Linden, Bergen, Guadalupe, and Odessa Generating Stations


A fleetwide initiative to improve oper­ational performance using mobile training facilities increases schedul­ing flexibility and employee partici­pation without interfering with plant operations (Fig 15).


Tenaska Virginia Generating Station

Tenaska Virginia Partners LP

A comprehensive initiative to increase fall protection involves iden­tifying fall hazards, brainstorming solutions, and establishing new pro­cedures. Improved personnel safety helped plant gain OSHA VPP Star certification.

Awards for O&M Balance of Plant

New Harquahala Generating Co LLC

Owned by MachGen Holdings LLC

Managed by Competitive Power Ventures

Operated by NAES Corp

Development and improvement of predictive and preventive mainte­nance practices by implementing a comprehensive, hands-on approach for vibration monitoring of rotating equipment pays significant dividends by safeguarding critical equipment.

Central de Ciclo Combinado Saltillo

Mitsui & Co Ltd and Tokyo Gas Co Ltd

Increased thermal load on the plant’s cooling systems from extreme sum­mer temperatures decreased power output. By reducing the incidence of sunlight on radiators, finned tubes, and piping, the plant maintained maximum load last summer.

Jack County Generating Facility

Brazos Electric Power Coopera­tive Inc

Multiple design modifications to streamline operation of the belt-filter press in the plant’s zero-liquid-dis­charge facility increased availabil­ity of this critical piece of equipment by 36% while reducing manpower requirements.

Jack County Generating Facility

Brazos Electric Power Coopera­tive Inc

Unexpected microbial degradation of HERO™ membranes prompted design modifications that improved both water chemistry and operation of the ZLD system.

Jasper Generating Station

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co

Compressed-air piping was reconfig­ured to prevent dryer desiccant foul­ing by oil carried over from the com­pressor. Capability to monitor dryer delta p also was added to identify potential operating issues early.

Pinelawn Power LLC

Owned by J-Power USA Develop­ment Company Ltd

Operated by Wood Group Power Operations Inc

Upgrading of the condensate polisher allows the plant to reclaim backwash water as cooling-tower makeup after settling and filtration, thereby sig­nificantly reducing the cost of off-site waste disposal.

Awards for O&M Business


Owned by Empresas Municipales de Cali

Operated by NAES Corp

Personnel developed and imple­mented a comprehensive program to elevate plant performance while operating on fuel oil. Result: The modifications and improvements were paramount to the plant’s suc­cess in becoming the first gas-tur­bine-based power station in Colom­bia to achieve regulatory compliance for operating solely on fuel oil.

Blackhawk Station

Owned by Borger Energy Associ­ates LP

Operated by NAES Corp

Development and implementation of an Infrequent Operating Procedure pro­gram for approving and conducting unscheduled maintenance has dra­matically improved the reliability of steam supply to the plant’s thermal host (Fig 16).

Mustang Station

Owned by Denver City Associates LP, GS Electric Generating Cooperative Inc, and Yoakum Electric Generating Coopera­tive Inc

Operated by NAES Corp

Implementation of the Shift Training Evolution program to review proce­dures for seasonal operating occur­rences provides plant personnel the knowledge, confidence, and tools to safely and effectively perform O&M tasks for infrequent events (Fig 17).

Araucaria Power Station

Owned by UEG Araucaria Ltda

Operated by COPEL SA

With commercial issues delaying the startup for four years and a seasonal operating schedule, plant staff devel­oped and implemented a compre­hensive BOP preservation program to minimize equipment degrada­tion. Result: The plant’s availability exceeds 98% with no significant prob­lems attributed to degradation.

Desert Basin Generating Station

Salt River Project

Improved availability and reliabil­ity, and reduced costs, are benefits gained from a comprehensive pro­gram that integrates best-in-class analytic and diagnostic tools. Results include increased awareness of pos­sible issues and greater control over major equipment.

Emery Generating Station

Interstate Power & Light, an Alli­ant Energy company

Development of a comprehensive spreadsheet using EtaPRO™ and Excel allows plant operators to accu­rately track the cost and duration of each startup for benchmarking purposes.

Walter M Higgins Generating Station

NV Energy

Implementing a formal operator qualification program to effectively train and familiarize plant personnel with over 50 plant systems and their standard operating procedures helps maintain top productivity.

Awards for O&M Major Equipment

Palomar Energy Center

San Diego Gas & Electric, a Sem­pra Energy utility

Installation of a chiller system with eight modes of operation ensures pre­dictable and reliable output regard­less of the weather, greatly increases output on hot days, and selection of the optimal operating mode with min­imal operator intervention (Fig 18).

Tenaska Central Alabama Generating Station

Tenaska Alabama II Partners LP

Keen awareness of personnel during plant operation led to an adjustment of steam seal pressure to an optimal level to reduce turbine backpressure. Benefit: A decrease in overall plant heat rate of more than 1%.

Tenaska Virginia Generating Station

Tenaska Virginia Partners LP

Use of the plant’s “Six Steps for Con­tinuous Process Improvements” solu­tions approach virtually eliminat­ed HMI failures attributed to hard drives and power supplies. Benefits include higher reliability and effi­ciency and well as increased flex­ibility.

ManChief Generating Station

Owned by ManChief Power Com­pany LLC and Capital Power Corp

Operated by Colorado Energy Management LLC

Installation of duct balloons in gas-turbine exhaust plenums offers a cost-effective solution for keeping turbine disks above the minimum temperature specified by the OEM without additional heating.

Awards for Design

Harry Allen Generating Station

NV Energy

Implementation of an interdepart­mental system to manage construc­tion-project responsibilities focused greater attention on the planning phase and resolved overlaps during the construction phase.

Harry Allen Generating Station

NV Energy

Incorporating “lessons learned” from past construction projects and the creation of a document system to gather information and educate per­sonnel positively impacts new proj­ects by creating a cohesive and effi­cient team environment.

Jasper Generating Station

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co

In-house design, fabrication, and installation of permanent sample lines upstream of the SCR enables a streamlined method for tuning of the gas-turbine CEMS and eliminates previously unavoidable rental and labor costs.

Klamath Cogeneration Plant

Iberdrola Renewables Inc

Modification of the gas-turbine drain line to a more practical and efficient design eliminates inlet suction during offline water wash­es. It also allows visual verification of positive drainage during opera­tion as well as drain cleanout when necessary.

Awards for Environmental Stewardship

Osprey and Columbia Energy Centers

Calpine Corp

Utilizing the plants’ distributed con­trol systems to continuously track and compare chemical tank levels, an alarm system was developed to alert plant personnel of possible chemical leaks. The alarms have effectively reduced accident response and clean­up time (Fig 19).

Granite Ridge Energy

Owned by Granite Ridge Energy LLC

Operated by NAES Corp

A chemical evaluation of the plant’s cooling water led to the introduction of an environmentally friendly treat­ment using bromine. Results: An 80% reduction in chlorine consumption and a 60% reduction in the permit level (Fig 20).

Holtsville CT Power Station

National Grid

Faced with a changing operating profile and a stricter regulatory framework, the plant installed a system to inject high-pressure water into the fuel oil prior to combustion. Results: A reduction in NOx emis­sions by more than 50% and environ­mental compliance without the need for NOx credits (Fig 21).

Mint Farm Generating Station

Puget Sound Energy

Plant staff, in partnership with the local regulatory agency, used CEMS (Continuous Emissions Monitoring System) testing to minimize NOx and NH3-slip emissions. Result: A total reduction in combined emissions of 47% based on the plant’s intended operating limit (Fig 22).

Awards for Management

Granite Ridge Energy

Owned by Granite Ridge Energy LLC

Operated by NAES Corp

Development and imple­mentation of a critical equipment management plan ensures appropriate and effective response in the event a major plant com­ponent fails. Two high-risk areas addressed are generator step-up transformers and the cooling-water pipeline.

Klamath Cogeneration Plant

Iberdrola Renewables Inc

Implementation of a comprehensive document control policy for P&IDs and electrical drawings ensures that the most up-to-date information is used by plant personnel and third-party contractors.

Tenaska Virginia Generating Station

Tenaska Virginia Partners LP

Ensuring that contractor personnel understand the plant’s safety policies and partner in its safety culture is critical to maintaining a safe work­place. Contractors are encouraged to raise safety concerns/issues and to participate in their resolution.

Wolf Hollow I LP

Owned by Stark Investments

Operated by NAES Corp

Development and implementation of a model that predicts and sched­ules the plant’s capacity on an hour-to-hour basis effectively mini­mizes exposure to market risks and offers opportunities to capital­ize on favorable market conditions (Fig 23).

Awards for Safety

AE Units 3, 4, 5

Allegheny Energy

Replacing ladders and man-lifts to access circulating-water pumps for motor-bearing lubrication with new drain lines and a mobile filter cart for ground-level access successfully eliminates personnel safety hazards (Fig 24).

Covert Generating Facility

Owned by New Covert Generating Company LLC

Operated by NAES Corp

Frequent need to access the evapora­tive-cooler filter house for maintenance using an outside basket ladder was viewed an unnecessary hazard. Staff and owners collaborated to design an indoor stairway and platform for safe, efficient inspection and repair.

Jasper Generating Station South

Carolina Electric & Gas Co

Plant purchased and installed safe­ty sheds and hurricane window film to protect personnel against severe weather. The sheds can with­stand winds of 250 mph.

Klamath Cogeneration Plant

Iberdrola Renewables Inc

Installation of a pressure regu­lator and gage, a set of relief valves, and double block and bleed system to control and monitor air pressure and flow to chemical-delivery trucks during offloading operations mitigates the danger of exceed­ing a tanker’s pressure limits.

MEAG Wansley Unit 9

Owned by Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia

Operated by GE Contractual Ser­vices

Monthly calibrations of sensors in the ammonia-tank containment area presented a fall hazard and ergonom­ic issues for technicians. Plant staff designed and fabricated bottle racks for calibration-gas tanks allowing tech­nicians to work hands-free and with a greatly reduced risk of falling (Fig 25).

State Line Combined Cycle

Empire District Electric Co and Westar Generating Inc

Implementation of a computerized lock-out/tag-out system linked to the maintenance management sys­tem and master lockbox increases the level of safety for personnel and outside contractors. Results: Zero reportable injuries on equipment covered by the LOTO system since its inception.

Whiting Clean Energy


Elimination of fall exposure and risk when accessing scaffolds was achieved through the installation of retractable, “yo-yo adapter” lanyards on all scaffold access ladders