The following is a chapter by chapter analysis of the exponential growth of the gas turbine industry after the 1965 Northeast Blackout written by PAL founder and CEO David Lucier. For more information, feel free to contact Dave at dlucier@pondlucier.com or visit our Contact/Support page to shoot us a message. Enjoy!

Peaking Power, Epilogue

From the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA in the fall of 1966 to today in my office in Upstate New York, my forty-plus years of involvement with gas turbines has made for a terrific career.  Who could have known that General Electric field engineering work would take me to work in over twenty foreign…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 20: F-Technology and Beyond

General Electric began offering the MS7001FA around the turn of the 21st Century.  The most obvious distinguishing feature of the 7F technology was the “cold-end-drive” design.  The generator is connected to the compressor end of the turbine rotor, a departure from GE design concept for over 50 years.  Also, unlike the MS7001EA design, the 7F…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 19: Metals, Ceramic Coatings & Cooling

Sometimes it is more prudent to invest in existing power plants to improve efficiency and power output than to retire and replace them with newer units.  Improving gas turbine performance has much to do with raising turbine “firing” temperature to higher values.  This has become possible by improving metals in the hot gas path, protecting…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 18: Conversions, Modifications & Upgrades

Offering improvements to existing models of GE gas turbines has been an ongoing practice since the package power plant (PPP) was first introduced in the early 1960s.  The general reference for these improvements is called “Conversions, Modifications & Upgrades.”   The abbreviation CMU will be used herein for this cumbersome term.  Also, Field Modification Instruction (FMI)…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 17: The Long Anticipated 7EA!

General Electric introduced the MS7001EA in the early 1990s to much fanfare, and deservedly so.  From the introduction of the first so-called Frame 7B two decades earlier, the 7EA evolved and soon proved to be a workhorse machine of the power generating industry.  It is rated about 90 MW at ISO conditions, a good size…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 16: Computerized Control Systems

In the early 1980s, General Electric introduced the Integrated Temperature System (ITS) version as an option for Speedtronic™ Mark II.  It was GE’s inaugural venture into the use of computers to control gas turbines, abandoning some of the standard integrated circuitry of Mark II from the previous decade.  ITS dealt primarily with exhaust temperature signal…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 15: Cogeneration and Combined Cycle

In the early 1980s, General Electric recognized an emerging market for gas turbines called cogeneration (co-gen).  The MS6001B (a.k.a. Frame 6B) was introduced at this time to meet the demand.  In co-gen applications, the 6B provides exhaust heat to a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG).  This allows steam generation for a “host” company located next…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 13: Speedtronic™ Control and Protection Systems

General Electric unveiled its first electronic control and protection system in 1970.  It was called Speedtronic™.   Other manufacturers similarly introduced electrical and electronic controls on gas turbines at the about same time.  The name for GE’s system came from the combination of Speed control by elecTronic.  I’ve had difficulty confirming who came up with the…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 12: The Mighty MS5002 Gas Turbine

The two-shaft gas turbine was first introduced in the 1950s.  They showed some popularity in gas pipelines and chemical process plants in the 1960s, where variable-speed load compressors (made by manufacturers other than GE) were required.  These load compressors were designed to operate at speeds different than the gas turbine’s own axial-flow compressor. In 1970,…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 11: The Long-awaited Frame 7

In 1971, General Electric finally offered a power plant of the size that most electric utilities wanted 6 years earlier after the Northeast Blackout of 1965.  It was called the model series MS7001 package power plant. Also known as the Frame 7, it was rated approximately 40 megawatts, making it nearly three times the generating…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 10: The Great Northeast Blackout

On November 9, 1965, the northeastern United States experienced a severe power outage.  It came to be known as The Great Northeast Blackout, as many states experienced a power blackout lasting up to twelve hours.  The term “black start” capability is common in the power generation industry.  It came into prominence this suddenly dark day…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 9: Enter the Peaking Package Power Plant

In 1961, General Electric manufactured and installed the first package power plant (PPP) at South Carolina Electric and Gas.  The PPP was primarily used for peaking and emergency power generation.  The “packaged” concept was unique for the time: locating most of the primary and auxiliary components on the same I-beam base as the gas turbine…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 8: Compressor Drives for the Industrial and Gas Pipeline Industry

In the 1950s, General Electric designed, constructed and installed hundreds of 2-shaft gas turbines.  The units had two, mechanically-independent turbine stages.  The high-pressure (HP) turbine powered the turbine’s own 15-stage, axial-flow compressor.  The low-pressure (LP) turbine drove another manufacturer’s load compressor (Cooper-Bessemer, Nouvo Pignone, Dresser).  These turbines were used primarily in the gas pipeline and…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 7: The Fuel Regulator

The first control system used on GE gas turbines in the late 1940s was manufactured by Young & Franklin (Y&F) of Liverpool, NY.  It was called the Fuel Regulator, although fuel does not actually flow through the device.  It is a mechanical-hydraulic control (MHC) device that has an electric governor and pneumatic temperature control element. …

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Peaking Power, Chapter 6: Rutland on the Leading Edge

Rutland, Vermont is probably not a place one would expect to be in the forefront in new technology in power generation, unless perhaps it was in mountain stream hydropower.  Even less likely is this town’s involvement with one of the first land-based gas turbines to drive an electric generator.  But that is just what happened…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 5: Gas Turbine Planes, Trains & Automobiles

After World War II, it became popular to apply a new technology to modes of transportation including planes, trains and automobiles.  The combustion (gas) turbine, under development during the war, found many commercial applications.  Some succeeded; some didn’t.  Some came up against forces that crushed such innovative ideas.  Planes, trains and automobiles became the focus…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 4: Sir Frank Whittle, Father of the Gas Turbine

Discussions about gas turbines and their application to land-based power generation, gas pipeline and process plants should rightfully begin with British engineer Sir Frank Whittle.  The key word here is application. His predecessors were many, as the time line in Chapter 2 outlines, but Whittle should be credited for bringing ideas regarding the jet engine to fruition in…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 3: Gas Turbine Performance, Simplified

It is generally known by observation that gases have particular characteristics.  Variables like pressure (P), temperature (T) and volume (V) have a special relationship in gases that is best understood when considering the model below.  In words, Pressure (P) multiplied by Volume (V) and then divided by Temperature (T) is always constant.  It is a…

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Peaking Power, Chapter 1: The Brayton Cycle

The individual most commonly associated with the concept of the combustion (gas) turbine engine was an American named George Brayton (1830-1892).  He was an engineer with vision and ingenuity, who conceived the gas turbine thermodynamic cycle back in 1872, when he filed for a patent.  Discussions about gas turbines need to begin with Brayton.  …

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Peaking Power – Introduction

Since its introduction toward the end of World War II in jet aircraft, the applications of gas (combustion) turbines have been myriad.  Some uses have been successful, others have not.      In most cases, the failures were not because of  ill-conceived applications.  More often it was a case where they were “ideas whose times…

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Peaking Power – A Prologue

The study hall in Du Bois library was quiet in the din of autumn that evening in November, 1965.  Such was life at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA.  Winter was rumored to be just around the next blustery bend.  Mid-term exams wouldn’t allow me to  think about the Thanksgiving break coming later that month.   I…

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