Combustion Turbine Operations Technical Forum – Combined Cycle Journal

Combustion Turbine Operations Technical Forum

2016 EVENTS - September 11-15

Fall Conference & Trade Show, Rancho Mirage, Calif, Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa.

Chairman: Jack Borsch, Details/registration at when available. Contact: Ivy Suter, (Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force), the nation’s oldest user organization serving owner/operators of gas turbines, was born in 1975 when several users met to discuss problems they were having with GE Frame 7 machines.CTOTF history

Charles (Charlie) L Knauf Jr, PE, was the group’s founder and first chairman, a position he held until losing his “user” status by leaving Long Island Lighting Co’s GT technical group in 1984 for a position at the Electric Power Research Institute. In 1988, Knauf was appointed director of EPRI’s Charlotte-based Combustion Turbine Center. He remained in that job until “retiring” to private consulting in 1991. Knauf died in 2009 at the age of 85.

Herb Allen, a Florida Power Corp (now Progress Energy) employee, succeeded Knauf as CTOTF chairman. At that time, the group was affiliated with the Edison Electric Institute, reporting to the Steam and Combustion Turbine Subcommittee of the EEI Prime Movers Committee—a relationship that lasted for 16 years. It ended with the reorganization of EEI in 1995.

John Lovelace, a consulting engineer for Arizona Public Service Co, took the helm when Allen retired from Florida Power in 1991. He led the transition from an EEI-sponsored organization to CTOTF’s current independent status. Lovelace remembered Allen as a “quality guy, a person who facilitated interchange, quiet by nature, but a confident ‘force’ when it came to getting things done.”

In the early days of the organization, Lovelace continued, “the chairman did everything: He had to persuade a utility to host the meeting, he had to get the speakers, he had to make the hotel arrangements. Herb did it all and did it well. He was a team player, believing CTOTF was an organization by the members, for the members. It was never about one man and his agenda.”

After he retired, Allen spent several years as a consultant; his area of specialty was maintenance procedures. Allen last attended a CTOTF meeting in spring 2006 when he accepted an award from his colleagues for a lifetime of contributions to the gas-turbine-based powerplant community.

Lovelace chaired the group for 17 years. He recruited dedicated owner/operators from around the country to build CTOTF into the most comprehensive gas-turbine user meeting in the world. When Lovelace retired in 2008, the organization encompassed eight so-called “roundtables,” including ones dedicated to GE frames, Siemens machines, Alstom gas turbines, GE aeros, and Pratt & Whitney FT8s. Each subgroup has a chair and vice chair who are voting members of the CTOTF Leadership Committee.

Robert G Kirn of TVA was elected chairman upon Lovelace’s retirement and he has continued to grow the organization. Under Kirn’s leadership, CTOTF has added roundtables focusing on O&M and business practices, high-voltage electrical equipment, generators, combined cycles, and regulatory and compliance.

The big news from CTOTF’s™ 2013 Fall Turbine Users Conference and Trade Show was the announcement by Chairman Robert G (Bob) Kirn that he would be retiring from TVA in early October and that this would be his last CTOTF meeting in an official capacity. He had been chairman since 2008—only the fourth chair in the group’s rich history.

Kirn left at the top of his game, so to speak. Under his leadership, CTOTF meetings have expanded to include a vibrant opening-day program consisting of the Industry Issues and O&M and Business Practices Roundtables and the very popular and insightful Regulatory and Compliance Roundtable on Day Two. The technical program remains as strong as it ever has been in the group’s four decades of service to the industry—bolstered by recent addition CT-Tech™, which provides expanded instruction and training in plant operations and design theory on user-identified subjects.

Jack Borsch, VP of O&M at Colectric Partners and a former plant manager, was elected the all-volunteer organization’s fifth chairman. His former position, executive vice chair for turbines, has been filled by Rich Evans of Old Dominion Electric Co-op, a long-term CTOTF committee member and plant manager. Evans’ professional experience spans both aero and advanced-frame engines.

The remaining members of the CTOTF executive committee—Ed Sundheim, director of engineering services for Essential Power LLC, and Ray DeBerge, a GT fleet superintendent for Ameren Missouri, continue in their current positions.

The CTOTF advantage

CTOTF develops content-rich meetings serving many publics. In sharp contrast to other gas-turbine user groups, it addresses issues on virtually all engine models—aeroderivative and frame—produced by the major manufacturers. Plus, it covers major electrical equipment, regulatory and compliance matters, and other areas of interest to owner/operators. CTOTF is the ideal forum for someone who is time- or budget-constrained and responsible for more than one type of machine.

The group’s semi-annual meetings revolve around a series of roundtables, including at least one for each engine OEM (original equipment manufacturer). By contrast, the technical programs for most of the model-specific user groups start at the compressor and work through the machine addressing issues component by component.
Each CTOTF roundtable has a user chairman and vice chairman with plant operations and maintenance (O&M) experience to help plan the program for their session and to guide the interactive discussion.

Meeting hours at CTOTF typically total more than 70 over the four-day conference—three or four times that of most engine-specific user groups. With two or three concurrent sessions in most time slots after the first day of the conference, all attendees always can actively participate in a discussion of value to them.

One of the challenges to an all-volunteer organization is maintaining day-to-day communications to address user needs in timely fashion. CTOTF satisfies this vital requirement through the “always available” Group/Conference Coordinator Wickey Elmo of Goose Creek Systems Inc, Indian Trail, NC. Elmo sits on the Leadership Committee and has access to the latest information concerning group activities, including opportunities for participation in CTOTF conferences and exhibitions. If your question can’t be answered by visiting, contact Elmo at or 704-753-5377.

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