ASME-Landmark:Belle Isle Gas Turbine


The 3,500 kilowatt (kW) gas turbine that General Electric (GE) delivered to the Belle Isle Station of the Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company in Oklahoma City in July 1949 was the first gas turbine in the U.S. used to generate electric power. With an efficient power design created by GE's engineers, the turbine effectively gave birth to the modern power generation industry by transforming the early aircraft gas turbine—whose engines rarely ran for more than 10 hours at a time—into a long-running utility power machine.

The Belle Isle turbine had its genesis prior to World War II, when GE engineers in Schenectady had begun developing a locomotive gas turbine that a GE study had shown could compete with existing steam locomotives. One of the locomotive turbines that was slightly modified to be a prime mover that drives an electric generator became the Belle Isle Station turbine.

By November 1953, the trailblazing Belle Isle turbine had given its owners 30,000 hours of low-cost trouble free service. Together with a second identical unit that had been installed in 1952, the Belle Isle turbine served the utility for 31 years, until the Belle Isle Station was closed in 1980. From there, the turbine came full circle, and was returned to Schenectady, where it was made, and put on display outside building 262 of the GE plant. In 2013, the Belle Isle gas turbine was moved from Schenectady to Greenville (SC), the current home of gas turbine manufacturing and testing for the General Electric Company. See ASME website for more information