September 25, 2018 / 4:54 PM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 3-France's EDF halts GE turbine at Bouchain, GE shares drop

(Adds details on the number of potentially affected turbines)

By Alwyn Scott and Geert De Clercq

NEW YORK/PARIS, Sept 25 (Reuters) - French power utility Electricite de France SA said on Tuesday it has shut down a General Electric Co turbine at its Bouchain power plant for one month due to a turbine blade issue that has shut down similar plants in the United States.

GE shares fell 4 percent after EDF said it took the action over the weekend following a failure of a turbine blade at Exelon Corp's Colorado Bend plant in Texas. GE and Exelon said last week that four such turbines in Texas were halted when one of them had a blade failure.

"The (Bouchain) plant will be closed until Oct. 22 to proceed with controls and maintenance as advised by GE," an EDF spokeswoman told Reuters.

GE shares were down 4 percent at $11.26.

GE reiterated on Tuesday its comments from last week, saying it has a fix for the problem, which resulted from oxidation that "affects the lifespan of a single blade component on 9HA and 9FB gas turbines" along with GE's HA turbines.

The Boston-based conglomerate said the problem could potentially affect all 70 of its 9FB turbines it has installed, and all the 51 HA turbines it has shipped. GE has sold thousands of turbines over many decades.

GE said is working with customers "on a case-by-case basis, including EDF, to implement the solution and quickly return the units to service." The company said it was too early to estimate a timeframe for replacing blades at all units.

The turbine blades are exposed to extreme temperatures in the hottest part of the gas turbine, industry experts said.

GE's HA turbine has come to symbolize its power-plant ambitions: a large, powerful machine capable of generating power for thousands of homes and holding two Guinness World Records for efficiently turning natural gas fuel into electricity. One of those records was set at EDF's Bouchain plant in 2017. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Geert De Clercq in Paris; editing by David Gregorio and Lisa Shumaker)

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