HOUSTON, August 1, 2011 – CTG Universidad is a two-unit combustion turbine plant that was commissioned in late 1970 by the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) on the north side of Monterrey, Mexico’s third-largest city. By the 1990s, the two 14-MW turbines were obsolete, used sparingly, and slated for demolition in 2010. However, by 2002, portions of Monterrey, a major industrial center, began experiencing power restrictions caused by a lack of sufficient reactive power production, and that situation presented an opportunity for the plant.

By repurposing an old combustion turbine for use as a synchronous condenser to provide local reactive power, CFE—the federal agency responsible for generating, transmitting, and delivering electricity—significantly reduced local power supply limitations.

Though it wasn’t simple to add a new clutch to a 40-year-old plant, clever engineering, patience, and coordination among all the parties involved resulted in a model retrofit. In fact, CFE is seriously considering similar upgrades to other aging gas turbine generators throughout Mexico. CFE believes that older gas turbine generators that have been well maintained and that are located in, or can be relocated to, reactive power–deficient regions might well prove invaluable long past their usual retirement dates.

For its savvy plant repurposing, CFE’s CTG Universidad Unit 2 is the winner of POWER’s 2011 Marmaduke Award for excellence in power plant problem-solving. The award is named for Marmaduke Surfaceblow, the fictional marine engineer and plant troubleshooter par excellence.

For more details about the project, see “CFE Extends CTG Universidad Unit 2’s Life with Conversion to Synchronous Condenser” in the August issue of POWER (www.powermag.com).

For more than 128 years POWER magazine has been considered the definitive information source for the power generation market, and for over four decades, it  has honored the top performers in the electricity-generating industry with annual power plant awards. Other POWER award categories are Plant of the Year, Smart Grid Award, and Top Plants (gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables).

Through the print magazine and website (www.powermag.com), as well as the weekly POWERnews enewsletter, industry professionals learn about best practices, safety issues, improved productivity, and the latest business, legal, and regulatory news.

Jennifer Brady