The Combustion Turbine Operations Technical Forum (CTOTF™) is a membership organization of combustion turbine owners/operators ("Users"). The organization's user-defined mission continues to be the premier forum for the exchange of information and experiences related to the design, operations and maintenance of combustion turbine and combined cycle power plants, and to provide a collective voice for its members to express issues and concerns to the combustion turbine industry.
CTOTF™, originally known as the Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force, traces its beginnings back to 1975, when a group of gas turbine owner operators gathered to discuss problems with their General Electric Frame 7 machines. Charles (Charlie) L. Knauf Jr, PE, was the group’s founder and first chairman, a position he held until losing his “user” status by leaving Long Island Lighting Co’s GT technical group in 1984 for a position at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). In 1988, Knauf was appointed director of EPRI’s Charlotte-based Combustion Turbine Center. He remained in that job until “retiring” to private consulting in 1991. Charlie was honored by the group at the Spring 2003 meeting. Never one to mince words, during his lifetime award acceptance speech he expressed his amazement that water washing still seemed to be discussed at every meeting. Knauf died in 2009 at the age of 85.
While under Knauf's chairmanship the group grew rapidly and expanded their subject areas to include Westinghouse and Pratt & Whitney / Turbo Power & Marine, followed by Siemens, and later Alstom (ABB) gas turbine owner operators. The group became affiliated with Edison Electric Institute (EEI) in 1979, as the EEI Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force. It reported to the Steam and Combustion Turbine Subcommittee of the EEI Prime Movers Committee.
Herb Allen, a Florida Power Corp. (now Progress Energy) employee, succeeded Knauf as CTOTF™ chairman. Allen is remembered as a: “quality guy, a person who facilitated interchange, quiet by nature, but a confident ‘force’ when it came to getting things done.” Allen maintained the CTOTF™ affiliation with the EEI which lasted for 16 years, ending with the reorganization of EEI in 1995. Allen retired from Florida Power in 1991 giving up the CTOTF™ Chair to John Lovelace, then with Arizona Public Service Company. After he retired, Allen spent several years as a consultant; his area of specialty was maintenance procedures. Allen last attended a CTOTF™ meeting in spring 2006 when he accepted an award from his colleagues for a lifetime of contributions to the gas-turbine-based power plant community.
With the EEI's reorganization which resulted in the elimination of its existing subcommittees and task forces and there too the Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force. Rather than disbanding the CTOTF™ members decided to continue to meet, as the benefit came from the exchange of information at the meetings, not from affiliation with any other organization. One concern was that a lack of affiliation may cause difficulties for some members to get permission from their management to attend the meetings. Other organizations were considered for sponsorship, but the final decision was to go it alone. The Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force dropped EEI from the name and met for the first time as an independent organization in Portland, Oregon, in the Fall of 1995. The meeting was hosted by Portland General Electric, and was a huge success. In 1996 the CTOTF™ sought the services of Wickey Elmo, now with GCSI, for conference planning and group coordination. This arrangement has worked well, significantly reducing the burden on a member company to act as meeting host.
In the Spring of 2011 the CTOTF™ Executive Committee determined that to more accurately represent the purpose of the group a name change was needed. Henceforth, the Combustion Turbine Operations Task Force will be known as the Combustion Turbine Operations Technical Forum.
Robert G. (Bob) Kirn of TVA was elected chairman upon Lovelace’s retirement in 2008. Recognizing the need to expand CTOTF™’s technical scope as the importance of combustion turbines grew within the electricity generation industry and in response to the User community’s desire for increased business value, Kirn proposed and led the organization’s expansion to its current format.
Now structured in the six strategic categories of Industry Issues, Generator, Electric, Instrumentation & Controls (Gen-E&IC), Operations & Maintenance and Business Practices, Combined Cycle, Regulatory & Compliance, and Combustion Turbines, CTOTF™ now provides nineteen distinct roundtables that touch all areas of plant equipment, combustion turbine manufacturers, and general business practices.
Entering into its fourth decade of continuous service, CTOTF™’s primary role as the combustion turbine industry’s premier facilitator of information and communications remains its fundamental mission.