UPDATE 1-GE has booked over $1 bln in gas turbine orders

Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:51pm EDT

* Running about 30 percent ahead of 2010 pace, exec says

* Growth "a little better" than expected, exec says (Adds quotes from GE executive)

Sept 14 (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) has landed more than $1 billion in orders for new gas turbines in North America so far this year, reflecting power companies' growing interest in natural gas, the largest U.S. conglomerate said.

That is about 30 percent ahead of last year's pace and reflects faster growth than the world's largest maker of electric turbines expected," said Steve Bolze, who heads the company's power and water business.

"The North American orders for gas turbines ... have been a little better than we thought this year," Bolze said in an interview on Wednesday.

For the past year GE has been predicting a rebound in U.S. demand for gas turbines, driven by surging production of shale gas. That follows a period of six to seven years when U.S. demand was minimal after a demand bubble early in the past decade.

The company also unveiled a new 50-megawatt gas turbine that it said could cycle up to full capacity in one minute, a technology that could help power suppliers meet quick spikes in demand. A 50-megawatt turbine produces about enough electricity to meet the needs of 40,000 typical American users.

Utilities and large-scale power users including hospitals and universities have expressed interest in the turbine, Bolze said. (Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by John Wallace and Steve Orlofsky)

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