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Photos by Fritz Rethage · April 30, 2004 · © All Rights
Paterson, New Jersey
Hydroelectric plant tour
The original hydroelectric plant was installed in
French trained architect, engineer and city planner Pierre L'Enfant, who drew the
plans for Washington, D.C., was the first general superintendent for the S.U.M. project.
He proposed to harness power from the falls by a channel through the rock and an aqueduct.
The society directors felt that L'Enfant was taking too long and was over budget. He was
replaced by Peter Colt, who got the water flowing for the new factories in 1794. Colt used
a less complicated plan than L'Enfant based on a reservoir system. Eventually Colt's
scheme developed problems and a system nearer L'Enfant's original plan was used after
In 1910, S.U.M. convinced the mill owers to switch to electricity. Thomas Edison's
Electric Company drew up plans for a 4849 kilowatt hydroelectric facility which operated
from 1914 until 1969. In 1984, the plant was restored with the replacement of three of the
four turbines. In 1986 the plant was restarted and now generates 11,000 kilowatts per
hour, enough electricity for 11,000 homes. Recently the plant produced nearly $400,000
worth of electricity in four months which it sold to Public Service Electric and Gas.
The Great Falls Generating Station is located on the Passaic River in the City of
Paterson, New Jersey. The site was originally utilized for the production of electrical
energy and was decommissioned in January 1969. The powerhouse was declared a National
Historic Landmark in 1971. In 1986, the facility underwent a major rehabilitation with the
installation of three new turbine-generators and new electrical and control equipment and
was recommissioned in December 1986. The installed capacity is 10,950 kilowatts.
A hydroelectric generating facility consists of a number of components, including a dam,
headrace canal or penstock, intake structure, electromechanical equipment consisting of a
turbine(s), a generator(s), draft tube and tailrace canal. In addition, there are
electrical switchgear and controls equipment which are necessary to interconnect the
facility with the receiving electrical grid system.
A power purchase agreement dated September 6,
1985 was entered into between the Great Falls Hydroelectric Company and Public Service
Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G). The agreement was amended on
February 9, 1998. Under the amended terms, PSE&G continues to purchase all electrical
energy from the facility. The rates paid for such energy and capacity are based on the
local marginal energy pricing paid by PSE&G for energy and capacity. Source: www.algonquinpower.com
Decending the tower's stairway that wraps around a service elevator.