ASME-Landmark:Greens Bayou Generator Plant

On April 21, 1949, a completely outdoor turbine-generator was placed into commercial operation at the Greens Bayou electric power plant—the first fully outdoor unit to operate in the United States. The demand for unprecedented quantities of electricity after World War II had pressed utilities to provide additional power quickly. The outdoor design, unlike the traditional large turbine hall, significantly reduced the cost per kilowatt to build the plant and made maintenance easier and less expensive. To remove protective housings, engineers dealt with issues such as the freezing of water-based systems, weather exposure, corrosion, and ease of maintenance access to sealed components.

The 66 megawatt turbine-generator at Greens Bayou was one of the earliest AIEE-ASME Preferred Standard units applied in the utility industry and was Westinghouse Electric Company's first outdoor preferred standard unit. Design engineer Walton Sinton incorporated side-mounted condensers that permitted lowering the floor and the use of a gantry crane on the turbine deck, which eliminated the main structural steel supports required in turbine halls. Greens Bayou No. 1 was placed in service 21 months after the order date and operated until December 31, 1986, closing after nearly 40 years of service. Its success prompted the use of outdoor power plants at many other locations, even when exposed to hurricane force winds and torrential rains.

Predecessors to the Greens Bayou plant were built beginning in 1933, when General Electric installed a power plant in Schenectady, New York, which placed only the turbine and boiler outside. Greens Bayou was the first to place all components—boiler, turbine-generator, condenser, and auxiliaries—outdoors. See ASME website for more information