The Williamson Energy Island

This summer, Williamson College of the Trades will be hosting a Continuing Education course on Thermal Power Plants. Entitled Introduction to Thermal Power Plants, the in-depth course provides three days of condensed study split between classroom presentations and extensive tours of five power plants. Included in the tours are visits to four Utility Scale Power Plants (200-800 MW) using natural gas, coal and oil fuels, in addition to a visit to the Williamson Energy Island which utilizes natural gas, oil, and solar power.

Registration is now open for Williamson’s 2018 Introduction to Thermal Power Plants course!


This month’s newsletter focuses on Williamson’s innovative Energy Island.

Figure 1

Figures 1 – 3 illustrate some of the components of Energy Island. The steam utilized for the two Skinner steam turbines is part of the campus wide application of Combined Heat and Power. The steam exhaust from the steam turbines is captured for building heating in the winter. Hands-on education and effective instructor mentoring is the educational model by which Williamson has operated from its inception in 1888.

Figure 2

Figure 3
Figure 4 (pictured, top of article) – Director Chilman and students with the LP Turbine Condenser

The Williamson “Micro-Grid” includes Combined Heat and Power (CHP), a natural gas reciprocating gas engine, a solar array, diesel generators for backup and a new Rockwell Distributed Control System (DCS) to manage energy flows across the entire campus. The installation and configuration of Williamson’s new DCS has been a significant advancement this year with the faculty and students continuing to add more inputs to the system. On the horizon is the use of Thermal Storage for heating demand load leveling by recovering LP Turbine exhaust energy for winter heating.

Figure 5 – Williamson’s Water and Fuels Laboratory

Figure 6 – DCS Control room

Figure 7 – Williamson Solar Array

Figure 8 – Installation of a new Standby Emergency Generator (Natural Gas)

Figure 9 – Williamson’s Cleaver-Brooks Boiler

The Williamson Energy Island 1890-1940, the first 50 Years

Williamson College has prepared young men for the power engineering career field since 1890. Many of the college’s graduates have risen to the top tier of electric utility power generation. Since its early years, Williamson has employed Combined Heat and Power principles across the campus since 1890 with coal boilers driving reciprocating steam engines connected to direct current generators. Over the years, the Williamson Energy Island initiative has evolved into a 60-cycle alternating Current Micro-Grid, which encapsulating numerous forms of power generation.

Let’s take a quick trip through the history of Williamson’s power energy program through the eyes of a 1940 graduate. A special thank you to Ms. Lesley Carey, the college’s remarkable archivist for her assistance. 1940 marked the first 50 years of Williamson’s Power Generation Technology program, and changed the life of William “Bill” L. Gunnett, Class of 1940 (4W0).

Figure 10 – Williamson Power Energy Facility in 1940

Figure 11 – Students at Williamson in 1940 (William Gunnett circled)

Figure 12 – Williamson’s Power Control Panel (circa 1940)r

Figure 13 – William Gunnet’s Yearbook Entry (1940)

Like countless other Williamson graduates, William had a goal, to earn a “Chief Engineer’s position”. I had the distinct honor to later meet Bill Gunnett in 1970 in Lakeland Florida. I’m proud to confirm that he indeed reached his goal, as the Chief Engineer of the Lakeland Electric Utility Power Plant, (now the McIntosh Power Plant).

Bill’s experience at Williamson paved the way for Bill to achieve his dream. Building in the leadership and character education, he received at Williamson, Bill also served in WWll as a Combat Engineer and remained as Commander in the Army 391st Combat Engineer Battalion in Lakeland. Bill passed away in 1991 but his accomplishments and Williamson story live on

Figure 14 – William’s Military Promotion

Figure 15 – Williamson Power Plant Class of 1939

I had the pleasure of working for Mr. Gunnett as a startup engineer at Lakeland Electric in 1970. This was for an oil and gas fueled 90 MW Unit Number 1 at McIntosh, later in 1980 becoming the 360 MW Coal and MSW fueled Unit Number 3. It wasn’t until the end of the startup of Unit #1 that Mr. Gunnett and I discovered we had both graduated from Williamson. That bonding of two Williamson men helped our future relationship with the Unit #3 startup.

William’s career path, which began at Williamson is but one example of how Williamson College has prepared young men for important energy production positions in the utilities and manufacturing and engineering fields for generations. Over the last 130 years, Williamson has adapted and upgraded it power program to meet the needs of emerging technology. Progressing from coal fired reciprocating steam engines driving Direct Current generators in the 19th Century to our modern day Micro-Grid which utilizes natural gas fueled thermal power generation using CHP and Solar power generation.

Richard F. (Dick) Storm, PE, CEM
Williamson class of 6W2

Registration is now open for Williamson’s 2018 Introduction to Thermal Power Plants course!

2018-03-16T11:59:37-04:00 March 15th, 2018|