Early Electrification of Buffalo: Hydroelectric Reorganization to Increase Efficiency
This is Part 10 of a 14 part series.
In early 1918 the Federal Government determined that conditions resulting from the World War and the national welfare required utilization of waters diverted from the Niagara River at an increased efficiency. The plan required the consolidation of the two power companies and a Niagara Falls distribution company in October to form The Niagara Falls Power Company (1918) [Fig. 10.1].i
The Hydraulic Power Company (Schoellkopf interests) and its predecessor had leased water to industries on the riverbank and supplied mechanical and electrical power to Niagara Falls customers for many years. Over the years the Hydraulic Canal had been widened to 100 feet and additional hydroelectric stations added.ii In 1918 Hydraulic Power had in operation its Stations 2 and 3 [Fig 10.3]. Station 2 was started in 1895 and completed in 1904. It had 19 units totaling about 34,000-hp. Station 3 was started about 1904 and completed in 1914. It had thirteen 10,000-hp turbines with horizontal shafts driving generators. The power company owned eight 12,000-V 25-Hz generators like the ones in the foreground of Figure 10.3. Five turbines at the far end of the station each drove two dc generators owned by the Aluminum Company of America; thus the power company continued to sell mechanical horsepower.iii
In January 1917, the War Department issued a permit to the Hydraulic Power Company to increase the authorized diversion from the Niagara River for power purposes from 6,500 cubic-feet-per-second to 8,785-c.f.s.iv Construction was started on Station 3B with three vertical 37,500-hp turbine-generator units which were completed in 1920. Hydraulic Power Company turbines used a head of 210 feet whereas Niagara Falls Power turbines used a head of only 140 feet due to the slope of the tailrace tunnel.v Following the consolidation of the companies, the original Niagara Falls Power Houses 1 and 2 were renamed Adams Stations 1 and 2 and the Hydraulic Power Stations 3A and 3B were renamed Schoellkopf Stations 3A and 3B.
Following the March 1921 issuance of Federal Power Commission License No. 1 to divert 20,000 c.f.s. for 50 years, the consolidated Niagara Falls Power Company proceeded with the installation of three 70,000-hp units in Station 3C at the Schoellkopf site. The units were placed in service in 1924. Because it was impractical to enlarge the Hydraulic Canal, Station 3C units were furnished with water from a pressure tunnel. Figure 10.6 shows Station 3C generators in the foreground and Station 3B generators in the background. Adams Stations 1 & 2 were shut down and placed in reserve.vi
In 1923 power from Schoellkopf was sent across Grand Island to Buffalo by a double circuit 60,000-V line with 500,000-cmil copper conductors supported by steel towers Fig. 10.7]. Transformation from 60,000 V to 22 000-V was at Terminal Station C located adjacent to the Huntley Station. Underground cables connected Terminal Station C to Terminal House A.vii This brought Schoellkopf power to Buffalo. 22,000-V underground cables were installed to distribution stations and customers in the northern section of the City to convert them to 22,000 V.
It would appear that a change to 22,000 V had been contemplated for some time. The nameplate on a three-phase water-cooled 2810-kVA transformer in service at Station 12 until 2006 has a patent date of 1918 [Fig. 10.8]. The high voltage windings can be connected 11,500delta, 19,920Y or 23,000delta. The low voltage windings can be connected 2400delta or 4150Y.viii It is interesting to note that some of the cables suitable for the 11,000-V ungrounded system were cut over to the 22,000-V grounded neutral system and operated satisfactorily for almost 50 years.ix
i. Niagara Mohawk Story, 41.
ii. Ibid., 25.
iii. Ibid., 25-26.
iv. Ibid., 29.
v. Adams, Niagara Power, 2:109.
vi. Niagara Mohawk Story, 43. Adams, Niagara Power, 2:293.
vii. Ibid., 293. “Happenings” (An Annual Log from the Electric Operations Department, Buffalo General Electric Company, 1923, photocopy). “Power Company Opens New Unit on River Road,” The Riverside Review,7 February, 1923.
viii. Author’s 35 mm slide taken 13 November 2002.
ix. Cable Department Manhole View Records for Cable between Terminals B and C, (Records dated 1955, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Buffalo, NY, n.d.).