Ellen Smith

These days, the sky is no longer the limit at Pratt & Whitney. Earthbound versions of the company's well-known aircraft engines are making their mark in the electrical power industry, where demand for generating equipment has never been higher.

Industrial gas turbines have been an adjacent business for Pratt & Whitney for about 40 years, chugging quietly alongside the company's primary commercial and military jet engine business.

But in the last few months, the company's aeroderivative industrial turbine business has undergone a transformation, gaining a new name, Pratt & Whitney Power Systems (PWPS); a new president, Ellen Smith, and a new sales, marketing, installation and service subsidiary, P2 Energy of Marietta, GA.

"The recent situation in California illustrates how products like ours can help supply power where it's needed. With our range of equipment from 150 KW to 60 MW, we fit well at the distribution substation level, or to provide power for a large commercial facility such as a mall or office building," Smith told World Cogeneration.

Power Systems' flagship FT8 gas turbine in "Twin Pac" configuration is capable of providing a power plant's entire output of up to 60 MW. The company also offers a lower power series of turbines based on Pratt & Whitney Canada's commuter aircraft engine technology.

More than 1,200 natural gas-powered PWPS turbines are in service around the world, many of them dotting the landscape of rural North America. New products such as the FT8++ with a 25 percent increase in power over the present FT8, are in development.

The company also sells environmental upgrade "e-kits" that significantly reduce NOX and CO emissions and extend the life of the FT4 and GG4 systems that receive them. PWPS is part of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), which includes such heavy industry companies as Otis Elevator, Carrier air conditioning and Hamilton Sundstrand controls. In the power generation world, UTC also owns International Fuel Cells, a growing Connecticut-based division that produces a 200 KW commercial power unit and has sold more than 200 systems since 1991.

Smith, who spent 19 years at GE Power Systems before joining Pratt & Whitney, sees product portability as a major selling point. "We're looking at north-south city pairs that might be able to share FT8 systems seasonally. Our product can be installed where it's needed in one season and then moved over roadways to a different power grid at another time of year." She also notes that the PWPS product line can generally gain site approval more easily and be installed much faster than higher-output systems.

Three years ago, the industrial power business at Pratt & Whitney logged only $80 million in sales and was losing money. Last year, it recorded $300 million, its best year ever. Smith's goal is to exceed $1 billion within five years. With expected advances in fuel cells and sales to the homeowner and automotive markets, UTC is projecting $4 billion in power generation product sales by 2010.

"Deregulation and demand have created an environment where we have countless opportunities. Our technology has always been solid and now with P2 Energy we have the service and marketing strength we need," she says.

The segment of the power generation market PWPS addresses has ample competition, but much of it is from non-U.S. based companies like Siemens and Rolls-Royce, Smith notes. Building a company from modest beginnings gives her the opportunity to differentiate PWPS from the competition in other ways, too.

"The culture we're driving in this new company is to be flexible, listen to our customers and provide them with what they need. We don't offer a one solution fits all concept. We work with our customers one on one," she says.

William E. Thompson, will serve as president and chief executive officer of P2 Energy. He was formerly a senior partner and director of global marketing and sales for Black & Veatch. P2 has officers in Marietta, GA and Houston. Gary Hilberg and Craig Hurlbert are joining Thompson as vice presidents. Both were formerly with PIC Energy Group.

Pratt & Whitney Power Systems (PWPS) will supply 100, ST5 industrial gas turbines to DTE Energy Technologies of Farmington Hills, Michigan.

The engines will be delivered over a 12-month period, starting in early 2002. The ST5 is a new mini-turbine being developed by PWPS primarily for use in distributed generation applications.

PWPS also announced the sale of 12, FT8 Twin Pacs to Northern Alternative Energy, based in Minnesota.