The Robert Moses plant is part of the huge array of power stations and reservoirs along the Niagara River, between Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario. Situated on the American side of the border, it’s run by the New York Power Authority and has been operational since 1961
But the ‘station’ itself is only part of the Robert Moses facility. A whole new reservoir was shaped for the plant – this massive manmade lake was created by excavating around 11 million cubic metres of rock. Water is pooled into the reservoir from upstream of Niagara Falls, sitting in storage when electricity demand is lower (such as during the evening) before being pumped through the hydroelectric dam to re-join Niagara River proper. The resulting operation was the biggest hydroelectric facility in the Western world at the time, and is still one of the biggest power generators in the region, dwarfing the output from the Adam Back array just across the river.
The plant itself, accessible from the parkway running along Niagara River’s New York side, gets regular visitors (and even a few locals casting a fishing line over the rails) and there are some great photography locations around the installation. But it’s also the location of the Niagara Power Project Visitors Center. Additionally known as the ‘Power Vista’, this is a venue for enthusiasts of all ages to learn more about hydroelectricity. Exhibits, interactive programs and guided tours all educate on the history of electricity in the Niagara region. Recently the building has even added a small solar array to the roof with real-time data and information as part of a new program on solar power education.
At over fifty years old the plant is still going strong and stands as a monument of sorts to the scale of hydroelectric power and its history in Niagara. Both as an example in itself and the educational resources it has on offer, it’s worth any energy enthusiast’s time to visit.