The Legal Side of Turbomachinery

I suppose that my first blog should be one of introduction. My name is Chip Thompson and I’m a partner at the law firm Mercer Thompson LLC (  Our law firm has a singular focus: advising electric power companies all over the world in connection with their most important transactions. This has been my professional focus for over 15 years, and in that time, I’ve been involved in many transactions and disputes involving “turbomachinery.”   In all of these transactions, I have been counsel for the turbine owner, not the OEM.   As lawyers are advocates for their clients, you’ll have to pardon any apparent bias I may have in favor of the interests of turbine owners. Such owners are my clients, and I care very much about their interests.





I am very honored to have been invited by Kalyan to write this blog. At least initially, this blogs central focus will be on “legal” issues that relate to the buying, selling, operating and/or maintaining gas, steam and wind turbines for electric power plants. I don’t intend at all to provide legal advice here, but to help lead a forum for general discussion of these types of issues. I have a few ideas already as to hot topics, but am certainly open to suggestions.






So, to get us started, here, let’s talk a bit about trends in the “turbomachinery” industry. No, this isn’t a legal topic, but I think that we should be looking at these trends first as a matter of identifying what legal topics are really relevant to folks these days. 






The first trend I hear about from industry pundits is this: with coal plants nearly impossible to permit (and some targeted for retirement), and wind/solar so geographically limited, gas turbines are going to be a significant generator-of-choice in the years to come insofar as maintaining baseload capacity is concerned.  Are any of you witnessing this same trend in your companies?






The second trend about which I am informed is that there are apparently multiple existing steam turbines (at coal and nuke plants) that are going to reach the end of their rotor lives in the next few years, giving rise to significant orders for new steam turbines or wholesale steam turbine retrofits. Again, are any of you seeing those types of trends in your companies?






Let’s see what responses come in here… that can help us set sail toward discussions on relevant issues that may arise in connection with these trends.