UniSource crews have completed an overhaul of a gas turbine generator that will support reliable service through the hot Santa Cruz County summer.

Unit 4 at UniSource’s Valencia Power Plant in Nogales includes a GE gas turbine that operates like a jet engine, spinning at up to 9,000 rotations per minute. The unit can come online in 15 minutes, providing additional support for our system during extreme summer heat.

“It’s a fast, flexible resource that’s really our go-to machine for reliability,” said Augustine Vargas, Superintendent of Combustion Turbines. “We’ve put the whole town of Nogales on that one machine at various points in the past, so we’re committed to making sure it’s running optimally to increase its reliability and performance.”

The huge effort to replace its major components took 10 days. UniSource crews were assisted by expert GE mechanics and power generation specialists from sister company Tucson Electric Power.

Although the revamp was routine work, it was such a large undertaking that the team developed a strategic plan and coordinated safety expectations in advance to ensure the entire effort could take place seamlessly. The work was completed without any customer outages.

“We opted to do this in the winter months to make sure that we’d be ready when high loads returned,” Vargas said. “We’re really proud that we’re meeting our obligation to serve our customers, who depend on that power and expect increased reliability for their local community.”

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