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Released On: January 06, 2009

Grand Coulee Pump-Generating Plant Renamed in Honor of John W. Keys III
KeysThe memory of Reclamation Commissioner John W. Keys, III, will be honored at a key feature of Grand Coulee Dam on the west bank of the Columbia River. At the direction of Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, the 312 megawatt power and water pumping plant will be renamed the "John W. Keys, III Pump-Generating Plant" in honor of the former Reclamation Commissioner who died on May 30, 2008 at age 66 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in Canyonlands National Park.

"John Keys was a dedicated and honorable Interior Department employee who, in his 34 years of public service, left the West and the Nation an enduring legacy, Secretary Kempthorne said. "This is one small way that we can honor the legacy and important life-long work of Commissioner John Keys."

John W. Keys, III capped his Federal career in Boise, Idaho, serving as Regional Director of the Pacific Northwest Region from June 1980 to June 1998. Following a brief retirement, he returned to federal service at the request of former Interior Secretary Gale Norton and was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as Commissioner from 2001 until his departure in 2006.

"John Keys took great pride in his leadership role in Reclamation," said Acting Commissioner Bill McDonald. "John was the most enthusiastic voice for the vital mission of our agency - producing water and power for the West. The renaming of this plant in his honor is a perfect tribute to that dual mission that he was so proud to support."

Customers and stakeholders of the Columbia Basin Project and staff from the U.S. House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over Reclamation have expressed support for this proposal to rename a major facility in the Pacific Northwest as a tribute to Mr. Keys, McDonald said.

The Pump-Generating Plant at Grand Coulee Dam, completed in the early 1980s, contains 12 pumps that lift water up the hillside to serve as the source of water for the Columbia Basin Project, irrigating 670,000 acres in central Washington. Six of the pumps are reversible and are capable of generating a total of 312 megawatts of electricity. Grand Coulee Dam itself was completed in 1942 and provides water for irrigation, recreation, fish and wildlife, hydroelectric power production, and flood control.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.