August 1, 2012 | LXXII, No. 18

New laser light show on dam coming in 2013

USBR just awarded $1.6 million contract

Visitors to the area in 2013, will see a brand new laser light show at Grand Coulee Dam.

Scott Hunter photo
The laser show entertains a Fourth of July crowd at Grand Coulee Dam. The current show spans more than a mile of dam surface every night in the summer.

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $1.6 million contract to LumaLaser of Eugene, Ore., recently to develop the new show.

Funding for the new laser show and equipment comes from Bonneville Power Administration and will be used to not only develop the show but upgrade equipment as well as sound quality.

Under the new system, authorities say, there will be an energy savings of about 75 percent.

LumaLaser will reach out to stakeholders and collect input for a “new script.” The goal, officials stated, is to create a more comprehensive story about Grand Coulee Dam, including its influence on people, local communities and the nation’s energy needs.

The project will begin late summer and be ready for the visitor season next year, it was stated in the report.

“The laser light show is a popular way to tell the story of Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Project,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “We want to continue to share the rich culture and history of the area with the thousands of people who visit Grand Coulee Dam each year. The new laser light show will be a dynamic and energy efficient way to engage visitors and infuse tourism dollars into the local community.”

The current laser light show has been in operation every summer since 1989. Since that time, the program has suffered many technical difficulties and maintenance problems.

Grand Coulee Dam is known worldwide as an engineering marvel that harnesses the strength of the mighty Columbia River to provide clean energy throughout the Pacific Northwest and water to thousands of irrigated acres, making it a national treasure and a symbol of American pride and ingenuity, the official announcement stated.

The current laser light show lasts about 35 minutes. There was no announcement how long the new show would last. The original cost of the present show was $791,806.

The evening laser show has been a major visitor attraction over many years.

“This is great news,” Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce President Scott Hunter said. “The laser show has been a steady draw for the local tourism industry, and we’re anxious to see what kind of new innovations can be added.”

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