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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Proposing a New Powerplant at the Grand Coulee Dam.

April 13, 1965

Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)

Electricity is a basic requirement of modern society. It is vital to our industries, farms, and homes. The Nation's rapidly expanding use of electricity is expected to more than double and perhaps triple by 1980. This calls for the combined efforts of all segments of the power industry--private, cooperative, and public. Therefore, I am pleased to transmit herewith the report of the Secretary of the Interior concerning the economic and engineering feasibility of a third powerplant at Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River and a draft of authorizing legislation. I have approved the Secretary's report and recommend that the draft legislation be enacted to authorize the construction of this outstanding project.

The proposed third powerplant will ultimately add 3.6 million kilowatts of generating capacity to the 2.0 million kilowatts at the two existing powerplants. When completed, the total capacity of the powerplants at Grand Coulee Dam will total 5.6 million kilowatts. It will be larger than any single hydroelectric development in the world today.

Authorization and construction of the third powerplant at the Grand Coulee Dam will further the orderly development of the vast water resources of the Columbia River. This is the next logical step following two important events which occurred last year.

First, Prime Minister Pearson of Canada and I met last September to proclaim the Columbia River treaty for cooperative development of the Columbia River--one of the great rivers of this continent. Canada has already started construction of huge dams to store water on its side of the border. These reservoirs will provide 15.5 million acre-feet of water storage in Canada. This storage capacity will provide increased protection of people and property in both countries from devastating floods and greatly enhance the hydroelectric potential of powerplants on the Columbia River.

The United States must construct additional power-generating facilities at its existing system of dams to take full advantage of this potential. The Grand Coulee Dam, because of its location in relation to other Columbia River powerplants, its height, its large reservoir capacity, and the reregulation of riverflow by Chief Joseph Dam immediately downstream, will develop a major share of the increased power potential made possible by the Treaty.

Second, the Congress approved last year a four-line, extra-high voltage transmission intertie between the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Southwest. It represents existing new developments in electric power technology. It is the largest single electrical transmission program ever undertaken in this country and is one of the finest examples of cooperation among publicly-owned and privately-owned utilities and the Federal Government.

The rapidly growing demands for electric power in the Pacific Northwest will readily absorb the power produced by the proposed powerplant. However, s o m e peaking power and secondary (not regularly available) power that is surplus to the needs of the Northwest in the early years of the project can be marketed in the Pacific Southwest over the intertie. Thus, the intertie will permit maximum utilization of the waters flowing past Grand Coulee Dam, resulting in conservation in its truest sense.

The economic and financial feasibility of the third powerplant are exceptionally favorable. The benefit-cost ratio is more than 3 to 1. Revenues from the sale of power will more than pay for the capital investment within 50 years. In addition to power benefits, the project will provide increased flood-protection benefits by improving control of water stored in Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Accordingly, I commend the Secretary's report to your consideration and recommend early enactment of the authorizing legislation which I have transmitted.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior and the text of the draft bill are printed in House Document 142 (89th Cong., 2d sess.).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Proposing a New Powerplant at the Grand Coulee Dam. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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