Talk:Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

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There are references to two court cases, the United States Supreme Court case allowing the Indian territory to be taken for construction, and a law suit regarding the chemical contamination which was subsequently settled. There are citations for both, but in each instance the case name should be listed and a citation to the official reporter should be provided. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:28, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Is this really a dam?[edit]

I am not sure if this article qualifies to have the "Dams in New York" category. It is a power station fed by a man-made constructed reservoir. I am sure there are dams involved but the vast majority of the article and facility is based around the power station. The Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations are a similar facility and not label or categorized as a dam. I wish to remove the category and adjust the intro wording.--NortyNort (talk) 19:57, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

If I am not mistaken, it is a dam, without doubt. The power station is fed by the reservoir, which is held back by the dam. Have a look here, and you'll also notice the elevation differences (in Google Earth mode) supporting this fact. Rehman(+) 02:54, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't know the specifics but the reservoir east of the power station is man-made in the sense that it was excavated. The reservoir is filled by a canal that diverts water into it before it would go over Niagara Falls. The reservoir then releases water down to the Robert Moses power station. The power station doesn't hold back a reservoir from top to bottom, it is just fed by that water flowing into the back. So in that sense I don't see it being a dam.--NortyNort (Holla) 09:33, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

No, the upper reservoir is NOT filled by a canal that diverts water into it. The upper reservoir is only filled by pumping up from the forebay (aka lower reservoir) and by rainwater collection. See my extensive comments in the new section below. The only tunnels that feed either power plant are underground and indicated here There are absolutely no canals that feed anything on the American side - canals can freeze over, and previous power plants at the Falls did use canals and they did freeze over with devastating effects on power generation and safety, so canals have not been used at the Falls on the American side for power for many years (the Canadians still seem to have one short canal other than the massive Welland Canal, but I have not investigated how they use this small canal and how they keep it ice-free). Even with underground tunnels, ice at the intakes is still a major problem and why they build an ice boom every winter to block ice from flowing down the river. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:55, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Hmm. The thing is, assume there was a serious problem with some/all of the turbines (Sayano-Shushenskaya?), then the facility will (or should) be able to shut-off water flow through the plant. Simply being able to do that, would definitely make it a dam. Even though they never do it on normal occasions. But if it's absolutely made sure that it can't do such a thing as holding back water, no matter what, then I suppose we can completely remove the word "dam" from the vicinity of this article. :) Cheers. Rehman(+) 10:53, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, if it failed they could close off the upper reservoir and the canal as well which provide additional control before reaching the actual power plant. This article here which I just read explains the process well. It says it is not a "typical dam".--NortyNort (Holla) 11:02, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes you're right, I didn't notice this dam above this "facility". Weird though when they could simply design this dam to also be able to control flow; saves resources. Cheers. Rehman(+) 11:51, 30 July 2010 (UTC)
Yea, so people get to see the cool Niagara Falls. It'd be amazing how much power would be produced if they diverted the entire river.--NortyNort (Holla) 12:37, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

New photo available[edit]

I took a photo of the plant when I was there today, and put it up on Flickr: [1] It's licensed CC so if anyone wants to add it here go ahead. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:06, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, that is a nice picture. I think it would make a good replacement for the main picture (I would just crop the right a little). The only problem is that you licensed it non-commercial so it can't be used on Wikipedia. --NortyNort (Holla) 03:11, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Hmm... yes, that's a problem. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:53, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Old railroad bridge?[edit]

Didn't there used to be a railroad bridge next to the dam on the reservoir side? Note the railroad tracks just south of the university, you can see where they went through where the campus is. On the north side of the reservoir you can see the 'road' continue with several short tunnels under roadways. Does anyone know more about this? The article doesn't mention a railroad bridge, but it would have probably pre-dated the dam and been very high off the water, right? -- (talk) 04:56, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

I don;t know if this helps, but Here's a map to the railroads that used to run around Artpark and Niagara University, and the article that breifly mentions the railroads — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:34, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Needs Fundamental Rewrite for Accuracy and Clarity[edit]

The current text for the section "Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant" was written by someone who does not fully understand this hydroelectric facility. I encourage someone to write prose that uses the following the replace the section "Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant":

  • day and night, water is diverted from the Niagara River via underground tunnels into the lower reservoir (also referred to as a forebay) of about 740 million gallons of maximum capacity
  • day and night, water in the forebay flows into the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant located on the banks of the Niagara River (13 turbines)
  • during the day, less water is diverted from the Niagara River through the tunnels to maintain a visually appealing flow of water over the Falls as established via treaty between the U.S. and Canada.
  • during the day, to compensate for the reduced water flow into the forebay from the river tunnels, the forebay is also filled with water released from the upper reservoir. This water flows from the upper reservoir, through the 12 pump-turbines of the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant and into the forebay, and then into the turbines of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, finally ending up in the lower Niagara River. The upper reservoir contains about 22 billion gallons maximum and is about 1900 acres in surface area.
  • at night, some of the water flowing into the forebay flows through the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant turbines, and some is pumped up into the upper reservoir by reversing the pump-generators in the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant. This pumped flow largely replaces the amount of water that was released from the upper reservoir earlier in the day (over time, it exactly replaces the amount released, but on any given day the amounts released from and pumped back into the upper reservoir may be different as power demand and power cost fluctuate day-to-day).

All water that flows through the tunnels only passes through the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant turbines once (despite the current article asserting that water flows through the Robert Moses plant twice). Some of the tunneled water also passes twice through the pump-turbines of the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant (once to pump up the water into the upper reservoir, and again when the upper reservoir releases water to drop through the pump-turbines and into the forebay). Virtually all of the water that drops through the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant pump-turbines was previously pumped up through the pump-turbines. The only water that drops through the pump-turbines that was not previously pumped up into the upper reservoir is the rainwater that collects into the upper reservoir and does not evaporate before use (an amount I don't know), which may or may not offset the amount of pumped water that evaporates in the upper reservoir (another amount I don't know). I believe these slight losses and offsets can be credibly mentioned as slight without quantification or any reference link, since that's what is done for the same losses in the general pump-storage wiki article (if these amounts were significant, we'd be able to find a bunch of engineering articles dealing with them). Anyone who sees the need to "get cute" and describe how any water is "used twice" needs to be very clear on these aspects to ensure the cuteness does not introduce inaccuracies as in the current article text, or miss the point of uniqueness at Niagara Falls. Assuming for the moment that "used twice" makes sense, its use in the current article makes it seem like the pump-generator system is similar to other pump-generator installations, and that is very inaccurate. I think it is more insightful to point out that the water that is pumped up into the upper reservoir is "pumped once and dropped twice" to an elevation far below its starting elevation in the forebay, thus generating immense amounts of power that constant elevation pump generating stations cannot achieve ("constant elevation" in the sense that the starting elevation of pumped water is the same elevation of the water after it drops through the pump-generators). Constant elevation pump-storage operations only achieve "pump once, drop once". The "pumped once, dropped twice" situation at Niagara Falls is unique to large natural waterfalls that have been converted to hydroelectric operation and have pump-storage capabilities (anyone please chime in with a list of such sites - it should be just a small subset of the list at List_of_pumped-storage_hydroelectric_power_stations

  • the combination of varying the amount of water diverted from the Falls and storing and releasing water in the upper reservoir provides the balance to produce the maximum amount of energy from the amount of water diversion allowed by treaty and maintain a valuable tourism industry centered around the Falls.

Greater clarity on the economic impact of the operation is also needed. While it takes slightly more energy to pump water up into the upper reservoir than is recovered when that water drops through the pump-turbines into the forebay, this loss is overwhelmed by the significant amount of power that is gained when the water from the upper reservoir then flows into the forebay and drops through the turbines of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant. Because of the treaty limitations on water diversion throughout a day, without the upper reservoir and Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant, the water that now flows from the upper reservoir and into the forebay and then into the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant would have naturally gone over the Falls without passing through any power plant. Put another way, if there were no treaty regulating water diversion, then water could be diverted as needed for power uses and the significant tourism industry would suffer, and if there was a treaty but no upper reservoir or pump-generator plant, the economic loss from the lower power generation of water limits would be very significant. This tradeoff of managing energy economics and tourism economics is either extremely rare or unique among hydroelectric operations. Most operations with pump-generator capabilities are trying to take advantage of the differences in energy rates that occur throughout a day - pump water up when demand and rates are low, release this water when rates and demand are high (the profits from this offsets the slight energy loss of pumping up and then releasing to the same elevation). While the rate and demand aspect is also a factor at Niagara Falls that adds to the overall benefit of how it operates, it is relatively minor compared to the tourism aspect. In other words, even if power rates and demand were the same throughout a day, the current way of operating would still be used. If rates and demand were constant in other pump-generator operating situations, then those operations that are of constant elevation (original and final elevation of pumped water the same)would not be profitable to the point that they would likely not be used.

To illustrate the point that tourism and energy needs are managed to balance their tradeoffs, the total hydroelectric capacity of U.S. and Canadian facilities could use all of the water that is carried to the Falls, such that the Falls would be dry. The main reason all water is not diverted for power needs is the desire to maintain and enhance a significant tourism industry centered on the Falls. The American Falls was totally shut down in 1969 by damming and diverting more water to the power plants for about 5 months as described here to improve the visual appeal of the American Falls and conduct studies on its rate of erosion and engaging in means to arrest it.

The treaty as it evolved to deal with economic and power needs is described and summarized fairly well at the following link and should be included in the article The actual 1950 treaty is provided word-for-word here The treaty basically provides for 50/50 sharing of water available for power between the U.S. and Canada, plus an additional 5,000 cubic feet per second for Canada. The treaty limits the amount of water available for power by ensuring minimum flows to go over the Falls, for navigation in the Niagara River and Welland Canal, and for water supply uses. Finally, the U.S. and Canada frequently share their excess capacity with the other and receive rent in exchange to best accommodate varying needs and capacity limits at each of their sites. All existing agreements related to the Niagara River, Niagara Falls and its power generation and water quality are administered under the umbrella organization for all water agreements between the U.S. and Canada, the International Joint Commission (IJC) whose website has a great deal of information Under the umbrella of the IJC, the International Niagara Board of Control specifically manages the Niagara Falls aspects of all agreements

In summary, perhaps the most unique aspects of the Niagara Falls hydroelectric operations, besides its immense scale and being the among the earliest of its kind, are how it was designed to manage tourism and energy needs, the presence of an international border and the subsequent need for complex international agreements, and how it has a "second drop" for pumped water that many pump-storage facilities do not have. Hopefully all of that helps explain aspects of uniqueness that the current article does not address very well.

Other points: the power generation capacity of the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant is variously described as 240MW (which is what the article currently states and not clearly sourced), or 300MW at Additionally, the current article mentions a total combined capacity of 2525 MW, yet a source already listed in the article states total capacity of 2411MW. To clarify I think we need to acknowledge that various projects have upgraded the power capacity of both the Robert Moses and Lewiston plants several times over the years, so I think a summary table would very very insightful. The table I propose would show the power capacities as they evolved with improvement projects over the years, and are planned for the future. I would appreciate help if someone could draft such a table and include it here.

To put the total power capacity of the Falls into perspective, the total capacity of the American and Canadian facilities at the Falls appears to provide about 25% of the total energy needs of New York State and Ontario per (note: this source seems inaccurate for several of its assertions, so a better source for the percentage of power provided to New York State and Ontario is needed) The Canadian and American power grids are highly integrated at the Falls - most of the time, this is a good thing. On November 9, 1965, this was a bad thing per Northeast_blackout_of_1965

I tried to find a map that clearly shows the tunnels, plants and reservoirs, but surprisingly could not find one professionally done. Here is a link to a map someone traced the tunnel route over a google map. The tunnel route seems accurate - if you know what to look for, you can see the river intakes, the forebay outlets, and much of the easement area between the intakes and outlets. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:10, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

>>>> I slightly editted the wiki page per the comment above, but I leave it to more informed experts to incorporate all of it. This content seems much more informative than what is on the wiki page, and seems accurate as far as I can tell. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:19, 4 December 2013 (UTC)