GE’S push to fix power tur­bine prob­lem goes global

Iran Daily - - Global Economy -

Util­i­ties are shut­ting down at least 18 of Gen­eral Elec­tric Co.’s new­est gas tur­bines for re­pairs at power plants from Taiwan to France, ac­cord­ing to more than a dozen in­ter­views with plant op­er­a­tors and in­dus­try ex­perts.

The shut­downs, which fol­low a re­cent GE tur­bine blade fail­ure in Texas, come as GE grap­ples with fi­nan­cial losses and a drop in orders for the mas­sive gen­er­a­tors that can sup­ply elec­tric­ity to hun­dreds of thou­sands of homes, Reuters re­ported.

GE is set­ting aside $480 mil­lion to re­pair its 9HA, 7HA and 9FB model tur­bines as it re­struc­tures its power busi­ness. The 126-year-old con­glom­er­ate has de­clined to say how many have been shut down, or when it would re­place parts – if needed – in as many as 130 such tur­bines it has pro­duced.

Power plant op­er­a­tors in Japan, Taiwan, France and at mul­ti­ple US sites have shut down – or plan to shut down – at least 18 of the 55 new Ha-model tur­bines that GE has shipped so far, French util­ity data and in­ter­views with more than 20 in­dus­try ex­perts, in­clud­ing ex­ec­u­tives, plant op­er­a­tors, in­sur­ance spe­cial­ists, en­gi­neers and con­sul­tants with di­rect knowl­edge of GE tur­bines show.

In an in­ter­view, GE gas power sys­tems CEO Chuck Nu­gent played down the sig­nif­i­cance of tur­bine shut­downs and the French data, say­ing that GE tur­bines are per­form­ing ‘ex­tremely well’, de­spite the need for ‘early main­te­nance’ to fix the blades.

Con­sid­er­ing all of the power tur­bines it has in use, GE has ‘the most re­li­able fleet in the world – 99 per­cent, give or take, re­li­a­bil­ity,” he added.

GE pre­vi­ously dis­closed that its equip­ment need­ing blade re­pairs in­cludes four 7HA tur­bines in Texas that were shut af­ter ox­i­da­tion caused a blade to fail in one of them in Septem­ber. Those tur­bines are in­cluded in the 18 be­ing shut down.

Pho­to­graphs of the dam­aged tur­bine re­viewed by Reuters show dozens of jagged and bro­ken blades in­side the mas­sive ma­chine, owned by Ex­elon Corp. The tur­bines are now run­ning af­ter two months of re­pairs, Ex­elon said.

GE told Reuters it iden­ti­fied the ox­i­da­tion prob­lem in 2015, and de­vel­oped a fix be­fore the fail­ure in Texas. The fix uses an ear­lier cast­ing method that was em­ployed on other tur­bine mod­els.

Three plant op­er­a­tors us­ing GE equip­ment that are shut­ting for blade re­pairs, In­ven­ergy, Ex­elon and Ten­nessee Val­ley Au­thor­ity, told Reuters GE has been trans­par­ent and re­spon­sive in in­stalling new blades for free un­der war­ranty.

“Over­all, we’ve been very pleased with GE’S HA tech­nol­ogy and its per­for­mance ca­pa­bil­i­ties,” said Beth Con­ley, a spokes­woman at In­ven­ergy, which is re­ceiv­ing re­place­ment blades for three new HA tur­bines at a Penn­syl­va­nia plant that has not yet opened.

Fol­low­ing the prob­lems in Texas, state-owned util­ity Elec­tricite de France closed its plant in the north­ern French town of Bouchain for a month start­ing in late Septem­ber for blade re­place­ments. Bouchain was the first plant world­wide to in­stall GE’S 9HA tur­bine.

Bouchain has logged 86 out­ages for equip­ment fail­ure, test­ing or other rea­sons from Jan­uary 2017 to Oc­to­ber 2018, five times the av­er­age for non-ge plants, ac­cord­ing to data from French grid op­er­a­tor RTE an­a­lyzed by Reuters.


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