When it was put into service in 1922, the 10-unit station, then the largest hydroelectric plant in North America, helped set the standard for 25 Hz power across North America. In the 1950s, generators and household appliances were converted to run on the new standard – 60 Hz – but Sir Adam Beck I’s G1 and G2 units remained on 25 Hz right up until 2009 as it generated power for steel plants and other industries whose equipment still ran on the old frequency.
Plans are now underway to replace the G1 and G2 generators with two new and more efficient 60 Hz generators, adding a total of 106 megawatts (MW) of clean energy capacity to Sir Adam Beck I GS. Currently, the station’s eight remaining units (G3 to G10) have a maximum capacity of 447 MW of power, with an estimated annual energy production of 2,149 gigawatt hours.
"Nearly 100 years ago, the Sir Adam Beck I station in Niagara Falls helped set the standard for 25 Hz, which became the norm across North America,” said Gerry Foote, OPG’s Vice-President of Niagara Operations. “But there is no longer a demand for the 25 Hz power cycle, so it’s time to overhaul and upgrade these two units."
“The new generator units will be lighter and more efficient, and able to make more energy with less water required to pass through the turbine.”
The project is currently undergoing environmental assessment. Pending this review, planning would begin for installation, which would start in 2020 and last into 2022.
Several other upgrades are planned for Sir Adam Beck I GS as it approaches its 100th birthday. This includes refurbishment of the 13.7-kilometre Sir Adam Beck Power Canal that feeds the station water from the Niagara River.