Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

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For other hydroelectric generating plants at Niagara Falls, see Niagara Falls hydroelectric generating plants.
Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station
Robert moses niagara power plant 01.jpg
Location Lewiston, New York, United States
Coordinates 43°08′35″N 79°02′23″W / 43.14306°N 79.03972°W / 43.14306; -79.03972Coordinates: 43°08′35″N 79°02′23″W / 43.14306°N 79.03972°W / 43.14306; -79.03972
Commission date 1961
Power generation
Units operational 13
Nameplate capacity 2,525 MW (3,386,000 hp)

The Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station is a hydroelectric power station in Lewiston, New York, near Niagara Falls. Owned and operated by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the plant diverts water from the Niagara River above Niagara Falls and returns the water into the lower portion of the river near Lake Ontario. It uses 13 generators at an installed capacity of 2,525 megawatts (3,386,000 hp).

Named for New York city planner Robert Moses, the plant was built to replace power production after a nearby hydroelectric plant collapsed in 1956. It stands across the river from Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations in Ontario, Canada.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The land that the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant occupies has a long history of use. In 1805, Augustus and Peter Porter of Buffalo, New York, purchased the American Falls from New York in a public auction, and later acquired the rights to the eastern rapids above the falls as well, but died before they could bring their vision of a canal and power plant to reality. Several other companies later attempted similar projects without success.[1]

In 1853, the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing Company was chartered; in 1861, it completed a 35-foot (11 m) wide and 8-foot (2.4 m) deep canal. The powerhouse finally opened in 1874, but produced little electricity even by the standards of the day.[1]

In 1877, Jacob Schoellkopf purchased the canal, along with the water and power rights, for $71,000. He improved the canal and put the powerhouse to commercial use. In 1881, his company completed Schoellkopf Power Station No. 1; it would operate until 1904. In 1891, Schoellkopf Power Station No. 2 opened directly in front of the original, in the gorge below the falls, with a higher 210-foot (64 m) drop. In 1904, the company built Schoellkopf Stations No. 3A and 3B.[2]

In 1886, the competing Niagara Falls Power Company, owned by the Cataract Construction Company, built the Adams Power Plant. Between 1900 and 1904, the company built the Powerhouse No. 2, bringing its total generators to 11.[2]

In 1918, World War I led the power companies to merge into the Niagara Falls Power Company. From 1921 to 1924, the company built Schoellkopf Station No. 3C next to the previous ones. It contained three 25Hz generators with a total capacity of 160 megawatts (210,000 hp),[2] bringing the Schoellkopf Power Stations to 19 generators with a capacity of 340 megawatts (450,000 hp).

On June 7, 1956, water seeping into a back wall caused the collapse of two-thirds of Schoellkopf Power Station No. 2, killing one worker and causing an estimated $100 million in damage.[3]

Construction[edit]

1973 photo


To replace the antiquated and now partially destroyed Schoellkopf power stations, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) planned an $800 million power plant that would produce 2.4 GW. During planning, it was called the Niagara Power Project; later, it was named for NYPA head Robert Moses.

In 1957, the United States Congress approved the project. Construction began that year, although its completion would require the NYPA to gain the rights to 550 acres (220 ha) of Tuscarora Indian Reservation for a new 1,900-acre (770 ha), 22-billion-US-gallon (83,000,000 m3) reservoir. This it did in 1960, through a United States Supreme Court decision, the Federal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian Nation.[1] [4]

During construction, over 12 million cubic yards of rock were excavated and twenty workers died. Construction was complete in 1961.[1] When it opened in 1961, it was the Western world's largest hydropower facility.

Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant[edit]

The Robert Moses Niagara Power Station at right.

The pump-generating plant in the Lewiston Dam is atypical, in that the dam was constructed not to control the flow of water in a natural river, but rather to contain a man-made 1,900-acre (770 ha), 22-billion-US-gallon (83,000,000 m3) upper reservoir (named the Lewiston Reservoir) which stores the water before being released into the forebay of the Robert Moses Power Station. Water enters the forebay via tunnels from the Niagara River upstream of the natural falls. Water in the forebay is then either pumped up into the upper reservoir or immediately sent down over the escarpment downstream of the natural falls into the Robert Moses Power Station turbines. The Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant 43°08′33″N 79°01′18″W / 43.14250°N 79.02167°W / 43.14250; -79.02167 (Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant) houses 12 electrically powered pump-generators that can generate a combined 240 megawatts (320,000 hp) when water in the upper reservoir is released.

At night, a substantial fraction (600,000 US gallons (2,300 m3) per second) of the water in the Niagara River is diverted to the forebay by two 700-foot (210 m) tunnels. Electricity generated in the Moses plant is used to power the pumps to push water into the upper reservoir behind the Lewiston Dam. The water is pumped at night because the demand for electricity is much lower than during the day. In addition to the lower demand for electricity at night, less water can be diverted from the river during the day because of the desire to preserve the appearance of the falls. During the following day, when electrical demand is high, water is released from the upper reservoir through the pump-generators in the Lewiston Dam. The water then flows into the forebay, where it falls through the turbines of the Moses plant. Some would say that the water is "used twice". This arrangement is a variant of what is called pumped-storage hydroelectricity. Engineers copied what had been built by Ontario Hydro, across the river, when a similar system was built during construction of the Sir Adam Beck generating station II in the 1950s.

This system allows energy to be stored in vast quantities. At night, the potential energy in the diverted water is converted into electrical energy in the Moses plant. Some of that electrical energy is used to create potential energy when the water is pumped into the reservoir behind the Lewiston Dam. During the day, part of the potential energy of the water in the Lewiston reservoir is converted into electricity at the Lewiston Dam, and then its remaining potential energy is captured by the Moses Dam, which is also capturing the potential energy of the water diverted from the river in real-time.

Beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2020, the pump-generating plant will be undergoing a $460 million modernization that will increase the plant's efficiency and service life. The Robert Moses Plant was refurbished in 2006.[5]

Contamination of the site area[edit]

During the mid-1980s, the New York Power Authority began an expansion project at the site, known as FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) Project 2216. Soon after, the project was halted due to discovery of hazardous chemicals such as dioxins, which had been dumped underground by chemical companies which had owned the land previously. A civil lawsuit was filed in the State of New York against the New York Power Authority, Occidental Petroleum, Hooker Chemicals, Bechtel Corporation, and Parsons Brinckerhoff, which was settled out of court in 1999.[6] Subsequent testing near the Lewiston Reservoir near the project still confirms mercury and organic contamination which restricts the consumption of fish.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Niagara Falls History of Power
  2. ^ a b c "History - 25-Hz At Niagara Falls - End of an era on the Niagara Frontier, Part I". IEEE Power Engineering Society. Retrieved 2010-04-06. 
  3. ^ Schoellkopf collapse
  4. ^ Federal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian Nation, 362 U.S. 99 (1960) (United States Supreme Court 1960).
  5. ^ "NYPA to upgrade Lewiston Pump Generating Plant". Niagara Frontier Publications. July 3, 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Darrell R. Larocque v. New York Power Authority, et al. (Supreme Court of the State of New York 1999).
  7. ^ "Federal Regulatory Energy Commission Environmental Final Environmental Impact Statement of Niagara Project". 2006. p. 74. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 

External links[edit]