Coal, Gas

Belle Isle Plant Destroyed

Issue 3 and Volume 103.

Belle Isle Plant Destroyed

Oklahoma Gas & Electric`s (OG&E) Belle Isle Power Plant was a landmark facility in its day. Built in 1930, the plant housed the first gas turbine used to generate electric power at a utility. Tom Hoke, an OG&E retiree who was a junior engineer at the time, reports that the Belle Isle plant may also have been the first combined-cycle plant, although they didn`t call it that at the time. Due to wartime restrictions and difficulty in procuring equipment, the plant had more turbine capacity than boiler capacity. Exhaust heat from the gas turbines was used to heat the boiler feedwater, boosting plant capacity.

The plant was built in a recreation area with an amusement park, a lake with a dance and picnic pavilion, and a duck hunting club. OG&E proclaimed Belle Isle to be “America`s most beautiful power plant.” The plant sported red tile and terazzo flooring, housed inside a modern brick building. The plant brought lower electricity prices to Oklahoma City. In 1931, a 40 kWh residential electricity bill amounted to $2.80.

But this once ultra-modern plant fell victim to progress. The amusement park closed, and in the 1970s the lake was filled. The city demanded more and cheaper electricity. Belle Isle became a peaking plant. Then in 1980, OG&E sold the property. After changing hands several more times, the plant was imploded in January to make room for retail shopping space. p