Timeline: WTUI’s place in history among gas turbines, power industry

Editor’s note: Twenty-five years may not seem long, but a lot certainly can happen in that period of time, as this section attests. The timeline compiled from many contributors is not complete by any means, but it offers a perspective on how much the electric generation sector of the electric power industry has changed since owner/operators of GE aero gas turbines first started meeting informally in 1982.

This mosaic blends snippets of information on the users who have given freely of their time to create and grow the WTUI into the world-class organization it is today, the laws affecting gas-turbine design and operation, LM engine engineering, noteworthy plants in the fleet, highlights of involvement by the OEM, depots, and exhibitors. We think you’ll find a quick read illuminating.

1939   The first utility gas turbine to generate electricity, rated 4 MW and developed by Brown Boveri & Cie of Switzerland, is commissioned in the town of Neuchatel. The ASME Landmark is on display at the Alstom factory in Birr. Key to this engineering achievement was the successful demonstration of an efficient axial compressor. Its high power density made possible jet engines for aviation service—the forerunners of the GE LM engines supported by WTUI.

1945   IHI, one of the four depots supporting WTUI technical sessions, develops Japan’s first jet engine. Fast forward to today, the company has shipped more than 560 gas turbines—including LM machines.

1967   IHI begins working in the areas of gas-turbine power generation equipment and cogeneration operations.

1969   GE launches the LM2500 engine; marine propulsion is the first application.

1971   First industrial use of an LM2500 is in the oil and gas industry.

1972   Clean Water Act becomes law.

1973   First oil embargo.

1977   Important amendments to the Clean Air Act (1970) affecting powerplants are signed into law.

1978   Natural Gas Policy Act initiates deregulation of the wellhead price of natural gas, allowing it to adjust with “market forces.”

      • Second oil embargo.

1979   Fuel Use Act prohibits utilities from using natural gas, a response to the oil crises of 1973 and 1978 and the need to have natural gas for home and commercial/institutional heating and as an industrial raw material.

      • LM2500 is first used in power generation service.

      • The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurs.

1980   Passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (Purpa) opens the generation market to non-utility entities, providing their facilities meet certain size, fuel, and efficiency criteria.

1981   Batch Air Inc begins life as an engine repair facility. It is located at the Miami (Fla) airport and owned by George Batchelor.

      • Stewart & Stevenson receives its first LM2500 genset order from India, for an offshore platform.

1982   A handful of users responsible for O&M at several West Coast LM2500 generating facilities and the first LM5000 cogen plant at Simpson Paper Co (Shasta mill) in Anderson, Calif, begin meeting every couple of months in break rooms to discuss problems/solutions, best practices, lessons learned. This is the beginning of what would become WTUI. The host plant was responsible for coffee and lunch.

      • GE engineering support for LM engines is headed by men such as Bill Baker, Horace Magley, and John Campbell.

      • IHI’s first LM5000 begins operating in the US.

      • Stewart & Stevenson receives its first US LM2500 genset order for the Hawaiian Independent Refinery Inc (Fig 1). It begins operating the following year under the watchful eye of HIRI’s 20-something lead engineer, Wayne Kawamoto. He later is elected WTUI’s first treasurer, a job Kawamoto still has today.

      • The first West Coast LM2500PC installed by GE’s Turbine Business Operations Div (TBO) is commissioned at Procter & Gamble’s Oxnard (Calif) manufacturing plant as a Purpa-qualified cogeneration package (Fig 2). Mike Raaker, former WTUI VP and board member and current historian/ambassador, was the technical engineer assigned to that project by P&G management in Cincinnati. He was involved from the beginning of work.

WTUI 25 Timeline 1, 2

1983   Batch Air begins to overhaul LM engines for GE, to reduce the OEM’s service backlog. Fig 3 is an “ancient” Polaroid of Mike Raaker (right) and Kevin Camfield in front of the Batch Air sign at the shop. Raaker was representing Procter & Gamble’s Oxnard facility, Camfield P&G’s Sacramento plant. As Raaker remembers, everyone visiting the plant was asked to sign in with a photo; that picture was circulated throughout the facility so everyone working on your engine could address you by name. How times change.

      • Hawaiian Independent Refinery starts up the first LM2500 packaged by Stewart & Stevenson for US service (Fig 4).

      • Simpson Paper Co’s (Shasta mill) commissions the first LM5000 installed in the US. Steve Johnson, one of WTUI’s early proactive users, has responsibility for the engine and quickly becomes expert in operating and maintaining the problematic GT model. He remains at the mill for more than 12 years. At the time of installation, the Shasta unit was the third LM5000 operating worldwide—if you count the two engines in Bangladesh which reportedly were not running well, if at all.

WTUI 25 Timeline 3

1985   The LM5000 at Simpson Paper Co (Shasta mill), which went commercial in May 1983, serves as the beta test site for the development of steam injection. Tests were successful and brisk sales of LM5000 STIG80 and STIG120 gas turbines followed.

1986   Fuel Use Act is repealed. FERC Order 436 forces “open access,” thereby allowing consumers (such as powerplants) to purchase gas at wellhead prices and contract for pipeline delivery service.

1987   Batch Air is sold to Greenwich Air Inc, owned by Eugene Conese.

1988   Power Systems Engineering Inc builds the LM5000-powered Corona (Calif) Cogen Plant (Fig 5), today managed by WTUI Treasurer Wayne Kawamoto, and three LM2500-equipped generating facilities in Bakersfield, Calif. These projects are currently managed by CAMS Juniper CA LLC. The Corona plant supplied 35 MW to SCE and about 7 MW to Golden Cheese Co of California, the thermal host, until its closure in 2008.

      • The first significant Congressional hearing on global warming takes place.

      • TransCanada Turbines Ltd, perhaps best known as TCT, is established as a joint venture between Wood Group and TransCanada Corp.

      • Stewart & Stevenson provides Wheelabrator Technologies, Norwalk, Calif, its first LM2500 designed for high STIG injection. This technology is accepted and adopted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in its NOx reduction retrofit rule.

WTUI 25 Timeline 4, 5

1989   FERC passes the Natural Gas Wellhead Control Act, essentially finishing what the Natural Gas Policy Act (1978) started.

      • Frank Oldread’s focus on LM engines begins with his hiring by Power Systems Engineering Inc during construction of the LM5000-powered San Joaquin Cogeneration Facility in Lathrop, Calif. All of the LM5000 plants installed by PSE initially provided steam to an adjacent process plant (in this case, a glass factory). Some of the steam produced by the HRSGs installed in all PSE LM5000 plants was injected into the gas turbine to reduce NOx emissions. San Joaquin’s thermal host has since gone out of business, but steam still is injected into the GT.

      • Power Systems Engineering Inc is purchased by Dow Chemical Co and the business is renamed Destec Energy Inc, which builds five more LM5000-powered generating facilities in Bakersfield, Calif.

      • A prototype exhaust-flow wedge for Stewart & Stevenson gas-turbine packages is installed at the Wheelabrator plant in Norwalk, Calif. The wedge eliminated turbulence problems and streamlined exhaust-gas flow, reducing backpressure.

1990   Amendments to the Clean Air Act place new emphasis on SO2 and NOx emissions, air toxics, and interstate transport of air pollutants.

      • WTUI incorporates in the fall. Bylaws are developed. The directors elected after incorporation and their officer positions: John Tunks, president, until 1992; Wayne Kawamoto, assistant secretary, until 1994, and treasurer (he continues in this position); Bob Fields, secretary, until 1993; Ernie Soczka, chairman of the board, until 1993; Bill Caldwell, VP, until 1992; Leon Ballard, VP, until 1992.

1991   Strategic Power Systems Inc (SPS) begins collecting O&M data for GE, sharing this information with WTUI. The company also releases its first ORAP® report to participating aero users and GE summarizing operating data from 24 plants equipped with 19 LM2500s and 14 LM5000s. SPS has worked collaboratively with the WTUI leadership since incorporation.

      • The first LM6000PA, designed for NOx control by use of water or steam injection, goes into service.

      • Treasurer Wayne Kawamoto files his financial report for the first Western Turbine conference following incorporation. Kawamoto could not have imagined at the time that he would still be doing this 25 years later. Expenses for the Sacramento meeting, which hosted 130 total attendees, were less than $20,000, a small fraction of what this year’s event will cost. The organization’s reserve, as stated in the 1991 financial statement, was less than $1000.

1992   Brent Newton and Steve Johnson (today the owner of SJ Turbine Inc) are elected WTUI directors and VPs; they hold those positions until 1995.

      • Congress passes the National Energy Policy Act, allowing access to utility transmission lines by independent power producers. This complemented Purpa (1980), which opened up the generation segment of the electricity value chain to non-utilities.

      • John Tunks resigns as president of WTUI and Jim Hinrichs is elected to succeed him. Hinrichs serves in that position until 2008.

      • First annual WTUI golf tournament is held in Monterey, Calif. Ronnie McCray is the tournament organizer. He continued as tournament chairperson until completing his term on the board of directors in 2003.

1993   Air New Zealand Gas Turbines’ John Callesen attends his first WTUI meeting, returning every year since.

      • An Eastern Turbine Group is formed and holds its first meeting to reduce cost and time of travel for owner/operators in the East. But the allure of California is too great and the group cannot be sustained.

      • Brian Hulse and Don Driskill are elected to the WTUI board for three years; Driskill also is elected secretary.

      • Frank Oldread leaves San Joaquin Cogen for greener pastures as a plant manager for Destec Energy in Bakersfield.

      • Gae Dow is hired as WTUI conference director, serving in that capacity until 2008.

1994   Jack Dow and Mike Raaker are elected to three-year terms as WTUI directors.

      • The first LM6000PB, equipped with a dry low emissions combustion system (DLE), begins operation. It produces less than 25 ppm NOx.

1995   Simpson Paper Co’s LM5000/STIG80 in Anderson, Calif, reaches 100,000 operating hours under the maintenance contract offered by Energy Services Inc. Simpson owned three LM5000s; the other machines were in Pomona and Ripon, Calif. The Shasta mill went into bankruptcy and closed its doors in August 2001; however, the cogeneration plant continued to operate until May 2013.

      • Steve Johnson (today an engineering manager at SCE’s Mountainview plant) and Todd Emery are elected to three-year terms as WTUI directors.

1996   California begins its first experiment in retail electricity competition.

      • John Fintland, owner and founder, Advanced Filtration Concepts Inc participates in his first WTUI meeting and hasn’t missed exhibiting since.

      • Ken Gestel and Marc Kodis are elected WTUI directors. Gestel serves his three-year term; Kodis resigns in 1997. Joel Lepoutre is appointed to complete Kodis’ term.

      • Larry Flood is appointed WTUI’s first webmaster. He remains in that position until Wayne Feragen relieves him in 2006.

      • Orders 888 and 889 establish open access to electric transmission lines.

      • The first LM2500+ rolls off the production line.

      • TVS Filter’s Industry Manager Fran Redisi first participates in WTUI meeting as an exhibitor.

1997   Bob McCaffrey and Dave Hermanson are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms. McCaffrey also serves as the organization’s secretary for one year.

      • The first Model PC and PD engines leave the GE factory.

      • Frank Oldread becomes Destec Energy’s turbine maintenance manager; he remains in Bakersfield.

      • Greenwich Air Inc is sold to GE, which closes the facility’s doors in the early 2000s.

      • Jack Dow and Mike Raaker retire from the WTUI Board of Directors (Fig 6). Dow was elected secretary in 1998, a position he held until 2008. Raaker was elected VP in 2002 and remained in that position until retiring in 2010. He currently serves as the organization’s ambassador and historian.

      • Kyoto Protocol is adopted, committing participants to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

      • NGC Corp acquires Destec Energy and its plants in Bakersfield, San Joaquin, and Corona, Calif.

      • The first LM6000PC (SAC) and PD (DLE) models, more powerful than the earlier PAs and PBs, achieve commercial operation.

WTUI 25 Timeline 6

1998   Jim Amarel and Norm Duperon are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms.

      • LM6000 highlights include a variable-speed mechanical-drive option, commercial operation of the first dual-fuel DLE combustor, and first commercial operation of the Model PC Sprint™ (Spray Intercooled Turbine) system.

      • Stewart & Stevenson sells its gas-turbine business to GE.

1999   Joel Lepoutre and Frank Oldread are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms. Oldread offers a montage of WTUI name badges in Fig 7 that reflects the ongoing and dramatic changes in the aero sector of the power-generation business over the years.

      • NGC Corp is rebranded Dynegy Inc.

WTUI 25 Timeline 7

2000   More than 200 LM6000s have entered commercial operation since the model was introduced in 1991. The high-time engine had logged more the 50,000 operating hours by this time; fleet operating hours were in excess of 3 million, reliability was 98.8%, and the 12-month rolling average engine availability was 96.8%.

      • More than 23,000 MW of GT capacity begins operating in this first year of what came to be known as the “gas-turbine bubble.” From 2000 through 2004, a nominal 200,000 MW of GT capability is installed in the US. During the same period, WTUI attendance grows by nearly 30%.

      • Richard Smith and James McArthur are elected WTUI directors. Smith resigns in 2002 and his term is completed by Bob Nelson. McArthur resigns shortly after his election, with Jim Bloomquist completing his three-year term.

      • The Dynegy generating plants are sold to El Paso Merchant Energy (Fig 8). Four years later sells its powerplants to Northern Star Generation LLC, illustrating the volatile nature of the independent power business.

WTUI 25 Timeline 8

2001   Base-load cogeneration contracts begin transitioning to cycling/peaking agreements.

      • Ronnie McCray and Thomas Koehler are elected to three-year WTUI director terms.

      • TCT begins supporting technical sessions for the annual WTUI meetings. This effort continues today.

2002   Don Driskill and Mike Horn are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms.

      • Edward Tomeo forms Enpower Corp via a management buyout of United American Energy Corp’s western business unit, UAE Energy Operations Corp. Tomeo was president of the subsidiary company.

      • GE offers to buy WTUI.

      • TCT’s Dale Goehring leads the company’s participation in WTUI technical sessions and continues in that capacity until passing the torch to Steve Willard in 2008.

      • Bob Nelson, Jim Bloomquist, and Rich Recor are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms.

      • GE pulls its support for WTUI.

2004   Aeroderivative Gas Turbine Support Inc exhibits only months after the company is founded by Alan Mibab, who had been attending the show for years in another vendor’s booth. AGTSI has not missed a meeting since.

      • GE-authorized depots begin to provide WTUI technical support.

      • Jon Kimble and Jimmy Wooten are elected to three-year WTUI director terms.

      • Jim Bloomquist becomes WTUI’s conference golf tournament chairperson.WTUI 25 Timeline 9

2005   Chuck Casey and Charlie Hoock are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms.

      • Editors of the Combined Cycle Journal attend their first Western Turbine meeting. It was the beginning of a close collaboration with the WTUI Leadership Team, benefiting CCJ’s coverage of LM engines as well as users and vendors in this industry sector (Fig 9).

2006   Barry Mazer, AP&M’s owner and a big supporter of WTUI, dies in an auto accident.

      • Bremco Inc presents its HRSG repair capabilities in the exhibition hall for the first time. GM Bill Kitterman and Sales Engineer Bob Morse will participate for the 10th consecutive year in 2015.

      • First LMS100 engine, rated a nominal 100 MW and having an efficiency of 46% (LHV) in open-cycle operation, enters commercial service for owner/operator Basin Electric Power Co-op at the utility’s Groton (SD) Generating Station (Fig 10).

      • IHI participates in its first WTUI exhibition. The company had been providing support for technical sessions since the millennium.

      • Jim Amarel and Mark Breen are elected to three-year WTUI director terms. Breen resigns shortly after his election and Frank Oldread completes his term.

      • Jim Bloomquist is elected to the WTUI position of VP, a position he continues to hold.

      • Turbine Technics first participates in the WTUI exhibition hall. Shawn Burdge was in the company booth then as he will be in 2015, Turbine Technics’ 10th straight year.

      • Wayne Feragen is appointed WTUI’s second webmaster and continues in that position.

WTUI 25 Timeline 10, 11

2007   A new management team at GE reinstates the company’s support of WTUI.

      • Bill Lewis and David Merritt are elected directors for three years. Lewis resigns in 2008 upon his election to VP; Alvin Boyd completes Lewis’ director term.

      • CSE Engineering Inc exhibits at its first WTUI with Craig Corzine, the company’s founder and CEO, in the booth. He was urged to attend by Steven Morton who had participated since 2000 as a user. CSE will run its consecutive exhibitions streak to eight in 2015.

      • Gas Turbine Controls participates in its first WTUI exhibition, touts the experience, and goes for eight straight at the 25th anniversary meeting.

      • Riverside Energy Resource Center, today a four-unit LM6000-powered peaking facility managed by WTUI Director Bryan Atkisson, earns CCJ’s Pacesetter Plant Award for the design of a zero-liquid-discharge system that has demonstrated its ability to satisfy the often conflicting goals of regulatory compliance and affordable capital and operating costs (Fig 11).

      • Steve Johnson, a former WTUI director, makes a major career change and launches SJ Turbine Inc, a thriving business today.

2008   Advanced Turbine Support LLC’s President Rod Shidler and Field Service Manager Mike Hoogsteden display the firm’s capabilities at WTUI for the first time. They haven’t missed a meeting since.

      • Chuck Casey is elected secretary of WTUI, a position he retains until his election as president in 2013.

      • Gae Dow retires as WTUI conference director after 15 years of service (Fig 12)

      • Jim Hinrichs and Jack Dow become the first WTUI officer/director retirees to earn lifetime membership in the organization.

      • Jon Kimble succeeds Jim Hinrichs as president of WTUI and serves in that capacity until his retirement in 2012.

      • Mark Breen and Harry Scarborough are elected to three-year WTUI director terms. Scarborough resigns in 2010 and David Merritt is appointed to complete his term.

      • Sulzer’s first year at WTUI and the company hasn’t missed a meeting since. Warren Holmes and Mike Curran represented Sulzer that first year to demonstrate its LM5000 power turbine repair capabilities.

      • WoodGroup Pratt & Whitney opens a shop in Florida to overhaul LM2500s and FT4s. The business is not sustainable long-term.

WTUI 25 Timeline 13

2009   Bob Nelson’s battle with cancer ends at age 46. The former WTUI director was SMUD’s superintendent of thermal projects. He was highly regarded by industry peers for his technical and management prowess, and well liked (Fig 13). One industry colleague said, “You always felt good being around him.” Nelson’s recipe for professional success: “No serial number ones.”

      • Charlene Raaker is appointed conference coordinator; she continues in that position.

      • Don Haines and Tony Skonhovd are elected WTUI directors for three years. The latter resigns in 2011 and is replaced by Rudy Barrett, who also resigns. Don Stahl is appointed to complete the board seat vacated by Skonhovd and Barrett.

      • Groome Industrial Service Group presents its capabilities in SCR and CO catalyst cleaning at WTUI for the first time. Jeff Bause, VP, of the company’s HRSG Maintenance Div, has been a regular participant since.

      • HPI LLC attends its first WTUI exhibition; the company’s participation continues.

      • Simply Mumtaz is retained as conference consultant; it continues in that role today.

      • Plants owned by Delta Power are sold to Juniper Generation LLC (operated by CAMS—Consolidated Asset Management Services).

      • Terry Bundy Generating Station, powered by LM6000s and managed by WTUI Director Brad Hans, receives CCJ’s Best of the Best Award for its water conservation program (Fig 14). It includes recovery of nearly 1000 gal/hr of condensate from inlet-air cooling systems during a hot, humid summer day.

WTUI 25 Timeline 14

2010   Alvin Boyd, John Baker, and Brad Hans are elected WTUI directors for three years.

      • C C Jensen Inc’s Axel Wegner gets hooked on the WTUI value proposition with the company’s first experience exhibiting. He has returned every year since.

      • Gary Werth (G R Werth & Associates) attends WTUI for the first time, looking for users who might benefit from using his stack balloons to minimize air flow though their gas turbines during periods of prolonged shutdown to protect critical engine parts against moisture, salt, dirt, low temperature, etc. He installs duct balloons on several LM6000s within the next year and now attends the world’s largest meeting for land- and marine-based aero users each spring.

      • IHI partners with Reed Services Inc in the Cheyenne Service Center equipped especially for supporting LM6000 owner/operators.

      • WTUI’s 20th anniversary celebration is held aboard the USS Midway.

2011   CAMS and Air New Zealand collaborate to launch Air New Zealand Field Services LLC in Bakersfield, Calif. Frank Oldread is named general manager.

      • Charlene Raaker’s tennis bracelet gets stuck in the registration desk and she is forced to work one-handed until mechanics show up to free her. Anyone with a picture of Charlene playing tennis wins a prize.

      • Ed Jackson and David Merritt are elected WTUI directors through the 2014 meeting, but Merritt is elected a VP of the organization in 2013 and John Baker is appointed to complete his term on the board.

      • Lincoln Electric System’s LM6000-equipped Terry Bundy Generating Station, managed by WTUI Director Brad Hans, receives a CCJ Best Practices Award for its state-of-the-art ammonia-tank leak-suppression system. Successful demonstration of the spray system significantly reduced both risk to plant personnel and the potential for offsite exposure.

      • TCT opens its state-of-the-art 220,000-ft² repair and overhaul facility in Airdrie (near Calgary).

2012   Andrew Gundershaug and Don Stahl are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms.

      • Chuck Casey replaces Jon Kimble as president of WTUI; he continues in that position.

      • Don Stahl, a WTUI director and plant manager of Black Hills Corp’s Pueblo Airport Generation Station, brings into commercial operation that 380-MW world-class facility’s two LMS100 peakers and two LM6000PF-powered 2 × 1 combined cycles (Fig 15).

      • WoodGroup Pratt & Whitney withdraws from its LM2500 overhaul offering.

WTUI 25 Timeline 15

2013   Daniel Arellano, Charles Byrom, and Bryan Atkisson are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms. Byrom retires in 2014 and Ed Jackson is appointed to complete his term. Arellano resigns from the board in 2014. His director’s chair remains vacant until the 2015 meeting, when it will be filled by appointment.

      • IHI celebrates its 160th anniversary.

      • Jon Kimble is granted lifetime WTUI membership upon his retirement as the group’s president. Chuck Casey is elected to replace Kimble.

      • Riverside Public Utilities’ Clearwater Cogeneration Plant, managed by LM2500 Breakout Session Chair John Baker, contributes to an advancement in the state of the art developed by Fossil Energy Research Corp, a WTUI exhibitor, for determining the remaining life of SCR catalyst in-situ.

      • TCT expands its testing facility to better support the LM6000 PA, PB, PC, PD, and PF engines.

      • Wood Group and Siemens’ TurboCare form the joint-venture company EthosEnergy Group, specializing in the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of gas and steam turbines.

      • WTUI officer corps is shuffled with Chuck Casey’s election as the organization’s president. Alvin Boyd is elected secretary and David Merritt is elected VP. They continue in those positions.

2014   Alliance Pipeline shares with LM users its experience in using HEPA filters on gas-turbine air inlet systems. Details are provided in CCJ’s special publication for WTUI’s 24th annual meeting. The company gave HEPA two thumbs up based on four years of normal pipeline use and rigorous analysis of results (Fig 16).

      • David Brumbaugh, president, DRB Industries Inc, is elected Majority Caucus Chairman for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The company has exhibited at WTUI every year since its founding by Brumbaugh and wife Shelley nearly 10 years ago.

      • Jermaine Woodall and Devin Chapin are elected WTUI directors for three-year terms.

      • Jim Hinrichs, past president and the face of WTUI for two decades, passes unexpectedly during a back operation.

WTUI 25 Timeline 16

2015   MTU closes in on 20 years of participation at WTUI.

      • WTUI celebrates its 25th anniversary.

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