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Off Peak

Now you can buy a 20-MW gas turbine without ever leaving your desk.
Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 2001

Off Peak

September 1, 2001

Online Shopping


Now you can buy a 20-MW gas turbine without ever leaving your desk.

Here's the scenario: You and your partners own a large hospital in a metropolitan area. Recent blackouts have you concerned about the quality of care you're able to give your patients, and you need a fix. What do you do? Well, one recent offering by Enporion, an online trading hub, would enable you to buy your own gas turbine.

In a recent press release, Enporion touted some 20 turbines for sale on its site as "ready-to-install."

It added: "In a time when energy supplies are tight worldwide and with order and production lead times for new turbines running up to three years, this first-of-its-kind event presents an unprecedented opportunity for companies to increase generation in a matter of months, rather than years." According to Tony Cox, dynamic commerce manager for Enporion, the company offering these like-new turbines recognized that the demand in general for electricity was high, and that "a lot can be gained" by the sale.

Cox says that the turbines being auctioned off are comparable to the GE Model LM2500, with capacities ranging from 2 to 28 megawatts each. Each unit is approximately 10 years old, with less than 40,000 total hours of use. The original turbines, he says, are GE aircraft turbines that have been converted into generator turbines. Who would best benefit from a machine like this? "Well, in North America, we're targeting generation companies and individual manufacturer generators. In other parts of the world, we're targeting primary and peaking generation customers," Cox said.

At the beginning of August, Cox said that a dozen customers had already registered for the auction, and more were signing up daily. He has fielded phone calls from all over the world from power producers, generation construction companies and energy consultants, as well. And how long does it take to put something of this magnitude together? "Months," Cox says. "This has been in the works for months." George Gordon, the CEO of Enporion, was none too proud to brag a bit in his company's press release.

"This auction," he was quoted as saying, "represents an unusual, and perhaps unique, opportunity... for large institutions and manufacturers to increase generation capacity rather quickly. ... Certainly, we are the first in our industry to use auction capabilities to benefit both our suppliers and bidders in an event of this magnitude."

Graham Collins, CEO of, another online trading platform, acknowledged the undertaking that Enporion is taking on, and says that his company knows what it's like to auction off such large items. Collins said that in the short amount of time they've been online, they've seen their business grow-and the types of auctions taking place on their site grow-as well. He said they've auctioned off everything from consulting services to enriched uranium to, yes, even gas turbines.

"We've been busy," said Collins. "However, we haven't worked the press release machine. ... We don't send a release every time we do a transaction."

Enporion's auction began