WTUI turns 25, commitment to users resolute

WTUI 25 LogoNothing much has changed at meetings of the Western Turbine Users Inc in years—certainly not in the last 10 that the CCJ editors have participated. In fact, the group’s commitment to brainstorming, troubleshooting, sharing of ideas, problem-solving, and helping users help themselves and others predates incorporation and WTUI’s first official meeting in Sacramento in 1991.

Attendance has increased, however—and dramatically. By Treasurer Wayne Kawamoto’s count 130 users, vendors, spouses, and guests participated in WTUI 1 (he was there); there were more than 1200 attendees at this year’s meeting in the cavernous Long Beach Convention Center. Western Turbine is the largest independent gathering of gas-turbine owner/operators in the world. By the numbers, WTUI 25 attendees represented 18 countries, 42 states, and hundreds of companies—including nearly 200 exhibitors.

The event began Sunday, March 15, for early arrivers with 128 playing the El Dorado Golf Course in the group’s unofficial annual tournament and another dozen or so engaged in the tennis tournament, organized this year by Tina Toburen, following the passing of long-time coordinator and former WTUI president Jim Hinrichs.

A special two-hour session Sunday afternoon brought first-timers up to date on the design of the LM2500, LM5000, LM6000, and LMS100 GE aero engines supported by the group, as well as the acronyms used in this sector of the electric power industry. Failure to “learn the language” can put attendees at a loss during the technical sessions starting Monday morning. The exhibit hall opened Sunday evening with live music to celebrate the special anniversary.

President Chuck Casey and the other officers and directors of WTUI rearranged the traditional Monday morning program to allow a tribute to Hinrichs by son Mike and a special presentation by Historian Mike Raaker, who has been a Western Turbine organizer/member/officer/director since well before incorporation.

Casey, the utility generation manager for Riverside Public Utilities, opened the meeting promptly at 8 a.m., updating the group on changes in the WTUI leadership. New directors Howard Hoffmann of Ameren Missouri and Rick McPherson of NRG Energy (Walnut Creek Energy Park) were confirmed by the membership. Director Don Stahl of Black Hills Corp completed his three-year term on the board and was recognized for his service. Calpine Corp’s Andrew Gundershaug, the LM6000 breakout chair, was appointed to fill the remaining year of Director Dan Arellano’s term; a job change dictated his resignation.

Following brief comments by Casey on WTUI’s value proposition, how to extract maximum value from the meeting, introductions, program comments, etc, the president invited Kawamoto to the podium to deliver the Treasurer’s Report. Finances were in order and positive, and accepted by voice vote. The treasurer then reviewed plans for future meetings (details will be posted on the organization’s website as they become available):

      • March 20-23, 2016, Palm Springs, Calif, Renaissance Hotel/Palm Springs Convention Center.

      • March 19-22, Las Vegas, Nev, venue to be announced.

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