Hydropower capacity is set to increase at the John W. Keys III pump generating plant, as work is underway to upgrade two pump units at the facility, which is located at the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington, US.

Technology group Wärtsilä and American Hydro – a Wärtsilä Company since 2016 – are working on the project, after American Hydro won a contract in August 2016 from the US Bureau of Reclamation.

During 2017-2019, the project involves the replacement of the pump impellers on Units 5 & 6 in the John W. Keys III plant. In addition, Wärtsilä will provide mechanical shaft seals for the pumps.

The plant has an output of 314MW and is part of the 6809MW Grand Coulee Dam power complex, which also provides flood control and irrigation for the area.

It 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 was completed in 1973.

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