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The Kings River Conservation District has renamed its power plant at the base of Pine Flat Dam in memory of Jeff L. Taylor who conceived and administered the facility's development and construction during his tenure of nearly three decades as KRCD General Manager-Chief Engineer.

With the late water and power leader's family looking on, KRCD officials today (April 23) renamed the station as the Jeff L. Taylor-Pine Flat Power Plant.

"Jeff Taylor was a man with the kind of foresight, drive and determination that made good, progressive things happen," said Mr. Taylor's successor, KRCD's current General Manager, David Orth. "More than any other individual, he was responsible for this facility becoming reality."

Mr. Taylor, in an interview when he retired from the District in January 2002, said, "The construction of the Pine Flat Power Plant was the most significant achievement of my career."

The renaming took place during a ceremony conducted on the power plant grounds, immediately beneath the 429-foot-high concrete facing of Pine Flat Dam, the Kings River's primary storage facility in the foothills of eastern Fresno County. Recently retired KRCD Director Garvin White of Fresno, a long-time San Joaquin Valley water leader, delivered the dedication address and praised Mr. Taylor's role in making the plant a reality.

Today's ceremony made official an action taken unanimously by KRCD's Board of Directors in December when the District's leaders agreed the renaming was appropriate. At that time, Ceil W. Howe Jr., KRCD President, said that KRCD Power's current peaker power plant development and Community Choice Aggregation proposal and planning with area cities and counties "were all brought about by what Jeff did. It's a reflection of what he brought to the District."

Mr. Taylor's widow, Ruth, told KRCD board members at the December 9 meeting, "His vision took a lot of hard work and planning." She added that Mr. Taylor devoted nearly 30 years to "putting the District first and having the District prosper."

Mr. Taylor was a Bakersfield native. He graduated from San Jose State College in 1957 before working as an engineer for the Kern County Land Company and the Fresno Irrigation District. Mr. Taylor later established his own engineering firm in Fresno.

He became KRCD General Manager-Chief Engineer on March 1, 1972. He had only recently returned to Fresno after a leave of absence of three and a half years from the engineering firm to undertake engineering assignments in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. Finding the valley's climate for engineering firms was then not attractive, Taylor sold his interest in the firm.

"I'd learned there was an opening here at KRCD and talked with two of the directors, Ed Howe and Hugh Johns," he said in the 2002 interview. They encouraged Mr. Taylor to apply. "KRCD didn't do much in those days," Mr. Taylor recalled. The District required only two rooms. It had a secretary and a former general manager on the staff. They soon retired. "So I virtually started from scratch." The District began taking shape, first through the lower river levees and channels operation and maintenance activity that gives KRCD such a crucial flood control function.

In 1973, Mr. Taylor "decided to recommend to the board that we actively pursue development of a Pine Flat Dam power facility. It had been talked about and studied, but always had been found, in engineering terms, to be marginal." This time the timing proved to be right. Project development moved ahead smoothly and the Pine Flat Power Plant, located at the dam's base, went into commercial service in 1984, an important addition to the state's power supply family. Other potential KRCD projects, identified in a Kings River Master Plan that Mr. Taylor and the District's board framed, have not been developed.

As one of his final efforts for KRCD, Mr. Taylor launched the investigation that today is shaping the possibility of Community Choice Aggregation for power distribution and development of new power generation facilities to add value and reliability to the region's electrical energy system.

Also during Mr. Taylor's tenure with KRCD, the District became a leader in protecting the Kings River fishery and related environmental resources with an active staff of biologists while encouraging better on-farm water management and looking actively for ways to solve the region's groundwater overdraft problems.

Mr. Taylor retired January 31, 2002, and died the following year.