The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower project in the USA, generating more than 21 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year – the equivalent of more than 2.3 million US homes.
The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower project in the USA, generating more than 21 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year – the equivalent of more than 2.3 million US homes.

Wärtsilä company American Hydro is upgrading two pump units at the John W. Keys III pump generating plant located at the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington, US.

The plant has an output of 314 MW and is part of the 6,809 MW Grand Coulee Dam power complex, which also provides flood control and irrigation for the area. The John W. Keys III plant contains 12 pumps that move 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. American Hydro provided replacement pump impellers for Units 1-4 at the facility between 1988 and 2005.

The modernisation project aims to increase the efficiency, flexibility and hydropower production capacity of the plant. 

The project was awarded to American Hydro in August 2016 by the US Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation. It involves the replacement of the pump impellers on Units 5 and 6 in the John W. Keys III plant during 2017-2019. Wärtsilä will provide mechanical shaft seals for the pumps.

Technology group Wärtsilä acquired American Hydro Corporation, a specialist in hydroelectric systems, in June 2016. 

"Combining Wärtsilä's advanced seals and bearings technology with American Hydro's leading knowledge of servicing hydroelectric and water distribution industries, we can now better support our customers in hydro upgrades and plant rehabilitation," states Lee Martindale, Business Development Director at Wärtsilä Seals & Bearings.