GE Speedtronic Mark IV Control System Cost

Hello everyone,

I took a tour of a power plant today and was in awe of the control system area. I did some research when I got home and learned about the different GE Control Systems, but am generally curious about the cost of the entire system. Does anyone know how much a GE Mark IV Steam Turbine control system or Mark V costs as opposed to the newer Mark VIe?

Apologies if I'm posting in the wrong sections, this is my first post and thought I'd ask the professionals here.

I'd appreciate any input, thanks!

They are pretty impressive pieces of equipment, aren't they?

The prices listed below are simply recollections. There was a "price" for each turbine control system, and for each "version" of each control system, but it wasn't ever really published and varied primarily based on the turbine and application, and was basically considered "proprietary information" that wasn't every released to "the public."

Mark IVs were produced in Salem, VA, USA, from approximately 1983 to approximately 1991. I believe a typical Mark IV panel (which could only be used on gas turbines) cost about USD400,000.00 back then, and that was just for the panel (no engineering; no installation; just the panel and electronics and such). Engineering would add as much as approximately USD100,000.00 or more to the job.

Mark Vs were produced in Salem, VA, USA, from approximately 1991 to approximately 2000, and could be used for gas turbines or steam turbines (with a few minor changes). If I recall correctly a typical Mark V turbine control panel cost about USD200,000.00, just for the panel and a single operator interface (no engineering). Engineering for a particular turbine and application would add as much as USD150,000.00 to the cost.

A typical, present-day Mark VIe turbine control system which can be used on gas turbines and steam turbines and hydro turbines (not including any SIL-certified components) probably costs about USD200,000.00 with a single HMI. Engineering for a particular turbine and application would likely add approximately USD150,000.00 to the cost, depending on the size of the unit and auxiliaries. (Mark VIe turbine control systems are also used on many GE-design wind turbines, but they are much smaller and have different auxiliaries; I have no idea what a Mark VIe wind turbine control system costs.)

None of these prices includes the cost of installation and wiring and commissioning, which can vary widely depending on many factors. (I'm referring to replacing an older turbine control system with a newer turbine control system, sometimes called an upgrade or a retrofit or, my favorite: an upgradation.) GE have various ways of upgrading Mark IVs and Mark Vs, and in the case of the Mark V can perpetuate existing wiring issues.

New GE-design turbines would be supplied with the newest GE-design turbine control system, engineered and ready for installation and commissioning. The cost of the turbine control system would be included in the overall cost of the unit (turbine and auxiliaries, and generator, if so equipped). When lots of GE-design turbines were being sold and installed, the prices of Mark* turbine control systems became more "commodity-like"--but turbines aren't like automobiles or TVs or even airplanes; there aren't that many of them and the components (including the control systems) are pretty specialized (and should be!) and more customized than most people believe. This leads to higher costs since they aren't mass-produced. (Actually, control systems used for automobiles these days are much more specialized and customized than most people realize--which is one thing that makes maintenance and repair so expensive, and does add to the original, base cost of the vehicle, much to the chagrin of the manufacturers.)

But, a purpose-built turbine control system (such as the Mark* line of turbine control systems are) is a thing of beauty in action. Properly commissioned and maintained by a thoughtful and curious technician or crew with training and experience they are wonders to behold. Improperly commissioned and poorly maintained, operated by people with little or no training or experience--and they get unfairly blamed for every problem or ill in the entire power plant. (Kind of easy to understand when a single turbine control system can annunciate--literally--thousands of alarms...! One reason commissioning and maintenance is SO critical for trouble-free operation.)

Hope this helps!

Overall, your cost estimates look reasonable. I will confirm that no Mark IVs were used for steam turbine control. The Mark IV was the first microprocessor based GE gas turbine control. At the time it was put into service, GE Steam Turbine was making their own control panels (not using GE Salem, VA products). Their Mark III control was microprocessor based and was in service at roughly the same time as the Mark IV (Salem built) gas turbine controls.

In the late 1980's, there was much consolidation in GE's Power Generation business. Part of this effort resulted in both Gas and Steam Turbine using the Salem, VA built Mark V turbine controls. Since then, both have used the Salem VA produced control panels and are now using the Mark VIe controls.
The GE Speedtronic line of control systems have been well designed and engineered, even though you will hear many other comments regarding this statement.

The Speedtronic line for MkIV had various computer components, such as <C>, <R>, <S> and <T> cores representing a Triple Modular Redundant (TMR) control system. These same components were also used in a system call Datatronics, which was meant to be a Distributed Control System (DCS) operating the balance of plant equipment. These system are all retired these days and are only memories, however, at the time they also were pretty amazing.

CSA is very close on the MkIV cost. Back then just a Remote interface to the MkIV was offered at $500k! When MkV was being sold, they priced out between $235k to $275k based on customers. This cost was for hardware and software out of Salem and did not include commissioning in the field as CSA pointed out. If I told you how much it cost Salem to manufacture a MkV panel, you would faint!

Salem had and kept one copy of each control system it ever produced. There was an area in Salem, called the chicken coup, that stored each of these systems. It was not a well know fact and it existed in an area most people who worked in Salem paid no attention too other than clocking In/Out each day they came and went. The first time I saw this area, it was nothing short of amazing seeing the history and understanding the development timeline. They had to drag me out of there.

Sadly, this area is now gone as is all the hardware that told and held so much great history of Salem's controls development, representing so many talented engineers, technicians and devoted manufacturing personnel.