Western Turbine Users, Inc.

Next meeting:

March 19-22, 2017

Las Vegas, Nev, South Point Hotel.

Conference registration opens November 1, 2016. Go to www.wtui.com for the detailed program, more on social events, and how to register. Revisit the website in the weeks ahead for updates on the special technical presentations.

WTUI’s rich history

The Western Turbine Users Inc celebrates its 24th anniversary in 2014. While there have been an incredible number of changes in the electric power industry since WTUI was founded, the organization’s mission has never wavered. It remains: “To provide members a forum for the exchange of technical, operations, and maintenance information and experience to improve the reliability and economic viability of GE LM series power facilities.”

WTUI veterans know that the success of this organization did not just happen by accident. The word “serendipity” does not apply to WTUI. Its success has been built on the efforts of dedicated people with vision and a long-term commitment to their industry— and to each other. Now, after 24 years of hard work, the group’s annual meeting, which started out in a few plant break rooms, has been transformed into a world-class conference that attracts a global audience.

The first meeting of the incorporated organization was in Sacramento, March 1991. There were 130 registered attendees—including users, vendors, spouses, and guests. The Board included John Tunks, Ernie Soczka, Bob Fields, Jim Hinrichs, Wayne Kawamoto, and Steve Johnson.

At  that  meeting,  Hinrichs became the WTUI president, a position he was to hold for 17 years. Other founding members of the organization who were present included Mike Raaker, Jack Dow, Jim Bloomquist, and Brian Hulse.

Breakouts. From the beginning, the two and a half days of breakout sessions covering each LM product line (LM2500, LM5000, LM6000; most recently, the LMS100) have provided the foundation for sharing knowledge and solving problems. These invaluable sessions provide the opportunity for users to openly discuss installation and commissioning issues, O&M concerns, lessons learned, and the opportunities for plant improvements.

Technical discussion covers the engine, package, controls and all ancillary systems. The intent is to share and document thereby creating a history through the notes of relevant and meaningful “real life” experiences to help the operating community improve as a group.

Over the years, discussion leaders for the breakout sessions have included Jimmie Wooten, Frank Oldread, Johnson, Grant McDan-iel, Joel Lepoutre, Roy Burchfield, Norm Duperron, Mel Murphy, Bob Anderson, Charlie Hoock, Kevin Koszalka, James Hardin, Bob Mason, Rich Frank, Chuck Casey, Bob Nelson (now deceased), Chris Kimmich, Bill Lewis, John Baker, Bryan Atkisson, James Charles, Chuck Toulou, Don Haines, Andrew Gundershaug, David Merritt, and Mark Breen.

The hard work and dedication of the discussion leaders is what makes the breakout sessions so successful and meaningful. Plus, the technical sessions have been strongly supported by GE and the OEM’s authorized repair depots, adding to their value. For the last several years the lineup of depots has been TransCanada Turbines, IHI, Air New Zealand (now ANZGT Field Services), and MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg.

The winds of change. WTUI conferences continue to grow annually, providing opportunities to renew old friendships and establish new ones. Equally important, the conference attracts a significant percentage of new users and attendees each year who bring fresh ideas and perspective vital to long-term health.

Continuing growth testifies to the Board’s hard work and to the increasing value and need for face-to-face information exchange. Such success, however, brings change and occasionally presents very real challenges to the relatively small group of volunteers who make WTUI happen.

President Jim Hinrichs and the Board in place during the first few years of the new millennium faced significant challenges as the need for WTUI’s services increased markedly while the duty cycle for the LM sector of the industry was migrating from base-to part-load generation and there was a ques-tion as to whether GE could continue to support WTUI with the same commitment as it had in the past.

The good news was growing conference attendance, which went from an average of 470 in the 1996-2000 period to 667 from 2001 to 2005. Since then attendance has averaged more than 800. With this success came the difficulties associated with venue selection; relatively few locations can accommodate groups of this size. Plus there were the additional workloads associated with registration, meeting attendee expectations, etc. More hands were needed; the volunteers could no longer do everything.

Both the organization and its owner/operator members also were forced to adjust to market influences. The once dominant cogeneration market was contracting; units were operating fewer hours per start and they were beginning to cycle.

This market shift was chronicled by Charlotte-based Strategic Power Systems Inc. A report presented at the 17th annual conference in Phoenix  based on information retrieved from the company’s ORAP® data collection and analysis system stated, “Two operating profiles are distinctly visible: A base-load duty between 1995 and 1999, and a cycling duty between 2002 and 2006. The years 2000 and 2001 appear to be a transition period where the shift in duty cycle began.”

As the duty cycle was changing, the LM6000 and LM2500 engines solidified their positions as the product lines for growth, and component life, coatings, and emissions were the issues that had to be addressed.

Growth of depot support. It was during the market evolution that GE communicated to the Board that it would not be able to sustain WTUI support at the same level as in the past. The Board took that in stride, solidifying its relationships with the Depots and redoubling its efforts to assure that the annual meeting’s technical content, and the currency and relevancy of issues covered, would continue to meet expectations. Larry Flood, Rich Recor, Mike Horn, Mike Pan-kratz, Joe Campanelli, John Cates, Robert Kofsky, and others put in extra hours to ensure that WTUI’s mission would be sustained.

The formal event begins on Sun-day afternoon with the New User Orientation, which is followed by the opening of the exhibit hall. Jack Gunsett conducted the orientation for years, eventually passing the baton to Oldread, who passed it to Bob Boozer a couple of years ago. The goal of the session is to intro-duce first-timers to LM engines, terminology, nomenclature, and other hands-on knowledge and experience to prepare them for the discussions that would take place during the breakout sessions beginning the next day.

Monday morning the conference starts. The months of preparation by the Board, the breakout-session chairs, and the Depots kick the meeting into high gear.

WTUI President Chuck Casey and the Board work diligently and effectively to keep “the shine on the apple.” In the electric power industry, there are many conferences and user groups, all founded with a desire to add value. And they do. But WTUI is special. It is celebrating its 24th anniversary not just because of the desire and need to share information and knowledge, but rather because it is genuinely focused on the user.

Serving owner/operators of GE LM 2500, 5000, 6000, and LMS 100

wtui logo 3106475 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Ste 140
Long Beach, Calif 90803-4296

For information about membership, upcoming conferences, meeting registration, etc, contact:
Charlene Raaker
Office: 513-604-8018
Cell: 513-604-8018