Reclamation issues draft environmental assessment for John W Keys III pump-storage plant

GRAND COULEE, Wash. 12/21/11 (PennWell) -- The Bureau of Reclamation has issued a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the John W. Keys III pump-generating plant's modernization project.

The core of the 314-MW plant relies on six pumps and six pump-generating units that require frequent maintenance due to their age, according to Reclamation, prompting the bureau to seek bids for the modernization project in April 2011.

The draft EA addresses concerns identified during the public scoping period and describes three alternatives:

-- No Action: Reclamation would continue operating the pump and pump-generating units under the existing maintenance program.
-- Plant Modernization: Reclamation would overhaul and modernize the pump and pump-generating units, including work on the unit controls, transformers, circuit breakers and fire protection equipment.
-- Plant Modernization with Left Powerhouse Decoupling: Reclamation's preferred alternative, this plan would overhaul and modernize the pump and pump-generating units. The pumps would be disconnected from the Grand Coulee left powerhouse and directly linked to the Bonneville Power Administration’s transmission grid.

The plant, on the Columbia River at Washington's Grand Coulee Dam, also provides irrigation water for 670,000 acres of farmland in the Columbia Basin Project.

A copy of the draft EA is available at the Grand Coulee Public Library, 225 Federal Road, Grand Coulee, Wash. The project summary is posted at

A final environmental assessment is expected in March 2012.

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