Grand Coulee units set for upgrade

11 October 2017

Wärtsilä and its subsidiary American Hydro are to upgrade two units at the John W. Keys III pumped storage hydropower plant in Washington, USA.

The work will increase the efficiency, flexibility and production capacity of the plant, which is part of the 6809 MW Grand Coulee Dam power complex on the Columbia River.

Wärtsilä and American Hydro will work on the project from 2017-2019, replacing the pump impellers on units 5 and 6 of the 314 MW plant. Wärtsilä will also provide mechanical shaft seals for the pumps.

The two companies were awarded the contract for the project in August 2016 by the US Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation. The modernisation plan will help to achieve efficient plant operations, provide reliable irrigation delivery and allow for adequate flexibility to continue power reserve balancing and load shaping.

The John W. Keys III plant contains 12 pumps that lift water from the Columbia River up the hillside to a canal that flows in to Banks Lake, which provides irrigation water to over 670 000 acres in the Columbia Basin Project.

Six of the pumps can be reversed to generate hydroelectricity when demand exists. The facility started operating in 1973.

American Hydro provided replacement pump impellers for Units 1-4 at the Keys facility between 1988 and 2005.

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