The Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station is a hydroelectric power station in Lewiston, New York near Niagara Falls, New York, United States. The plant diverts water from Niagara River above Niagara Falls and returns the water into the lower portion of the river near Lake Ontario. It utilizes 13 generators at an installed capacity of 2,515 megawatts (MW).

The Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station was built to replace power production upon the collapse of the hydroelectric Schoellkopf Power Station on June 7, 1956 in Niagara Falls. It is named after Robert Moses, a mid-20th Century urban planner in New York and is directly opposite of the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations in Ontario, Canada.


The land that the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant sits on has a long history of use for hydroelectricity. In 1805, Augustus and Peter Porter of Buffalo, New York purchased the American Falls from New York in a public auction. Acquiring the rights to the eastern rapids above the falls as well, the Porter brothers envisioned building a diversion canal in order to produce hydro-electricity. Before constructing the canal or powerhouse, the Porter brothers both died and several companies unsuccessfully attempted the project afterward.

In 1853, the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing Company was first chartered and began construction on the canal in 1860. The 35 ft (11 m). wide and 8 ft (2.4 m). deep canal was completed in 1861 and in 1875, the powerhouse began to operate. The power plant produced very little electricity although in the early electric age.

In 1877, Jacob Schoellkopf purchased the canal along with the water and power rights for $71,000. Schoellkopf would improve the canal and use the powerhouse for commercial uses.

In 1881 the Schoelkopf Power Station No. 1 was constructed, which would operate until 1904. In 1898, Schoellkopf completed their second power plant, the Schoellkopf Power Station No. 2, directly in front of the original, in the gorge below the falls, with a higher 210 ft (64 m). drop. In 1904, they built Schoellkopf Stations No. 3A and 3B.

In 1886, the competing Niagara Falls Power Company, owned by the Cataract Construction Company, built what is known as the Adams Power Plant. In 1900, construction began on the Niagara Falls Power Company's Powerhouse No. 2, which was completed in 1904 a total of 11 generators.

In 1918, the First World War prompted consolidation of the two existing power companies to form a new Niagara Falls Power Company. In 1921, construction began on Schoellkopf Station No. 3C, adjacent to the previous ones. This was completed in 1924 and contained three 25 Hz generators with a total capacity of 210,000 hp (160,000 kW). In 1925, the entire set of Schoellkopf Power Stations had 19 generators which could produce 450,000 HP (335 MW).

Construction of Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power

On June 7, 1956 water had seeped into the back wall of the Schoellkopf power station No. 2 and despite worker efforts to stop the flow of water, 2/3 of the power station collapsed. The power station had already long out-lived its life-expectancy though. However, one worker was killed and damage was estimated at $100 million USD.

In order to replace the Schoellkopf Power Stations, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) planned a new power-plant at a cost of $800 million USD that would take three years to build and produce 2.4 million KWh. At the time, it was called the Niagara Power Project before it was named the Robert Moses Niagara Power Station, after Robert Moses, the NYPA head at the time.

In 1957, the United States Congress approved the project and construction began that year. The NYPA had to gain the right to 550 acres (2.2 km2) of Tuscarora Indian Reservation in order to build the 1,900-acre (7.7 km2), 22 billion gallon reservoir and did so in 1960 through a United States Supreme Court decision.

During construction, over 12 million cubic yards of rock was excavated and twenty workers had died. Construction was complete in 1961. In 1961, when the Niagara Falls hydroelectric project first went on line, it was the largest hydropower facility in the Western world.

Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant

The facility is not a typical dam, in that it was constructed not to control the flow of water in a natural river, but rather to contain a man-made 1,900-acre (7.7 km2), 22 billion gallon upper reservoir which stores the water for day-time use through a tunnel from a point upstream on the Niagara River. The opposite boundary of this forebay is another dam. This dam is part of the 240-MW Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant 43°08′33″N 79°01′18″W / 43.1425°N 79.02167°W / 43.1425; -79.02167 (Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant), which houses 12 of electrically powered pumps that can move water to another higher storage reservoir behind this second dam.

At night, a substantial fraction (600,000 gallons per second) of the water in the Niagara River is diverted to the lower reservoir by two 700 ft (210 m). tunnels. Electricity generated in the Moses plant is used to power the pumps to push water into the 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. This prevents the plant from withdrawing such a large amount water during other times of low demand, such as weekends. During the following day, when electrical demand is high, water is released from the upper reservoir through generators in the Lewiston Dam. That same water flows into the main reservoir, where it falls again through the turbines of the Moses plant. Some would say that the water is "used twice." This arrangement is called pumped-storage hydroelectricity.

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. Previously, a refurbishment of the Robert Moses Plant was completed in 2006.

Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station
Locale Lewiston, New York, United States
Coordinates 43°08′35″N 79°02′23″W / 43.14306°N 79.03972°W / 43.14306; -79.03972Coordinates / 43.14306; -79.03972
Commission date 1961

Power station information
Generation units 13

Power generation information
Installed capacity 2,525 MW