Alstom ships out gas turbine from Chattanooga

Alstom ships out gas turbine from Chattanooga

May 8th, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Local Regional News

Crews move the first Chattanooga-manufactured natural gas turbine onto a barge at the Alstom facility Tuesday. The turbine will be shipped to Mexico.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Alstom Chattanooga Turbines today shipped its first natural gas turbine assembled at the company's $280 million facility in Chattanooga.

Lawrence Quinn, president of Alstom's operations in Chattanooga, said the 240-ton generator, which can power more than 700,000 homes, will make its way to Queretaro, Mexico.

"I'm elated," Quinn said. "I never had a doubt but it's always a relief when a plan comes together."

This isn't just the first natural gas turbine built from the ground up in Chattanooga. It's the first one Alstom has built entirely in the United States, said Patrick Fetzer, regional vice president for Alstom's natural gas business.

During the natural gas boom in the 1990s, the company assembled several generators in Richmond, Va., but the parts were shipped from overseas.

"Now, we do everything here," Fetzer said. "We moved our entire supply chain for this plant."

The natural gas industry has picked up significant steam since Alstom plant was opened in 2010, while the nuclear industry has weathered a literal tsunami that has damped expectations somewhat.

While the plant was designed to accommodate the giant nuclear turbines, which are the largest in the world, it has no problem churning out gas turbines either, said Quinn.

"I see a more complete mix going forward," he said. "Certainly there's been a slowdown on nuclear."

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