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The Niagara River is one of the world's greatest sources of hydroelectric power. The beauty of its wild descent from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario attracts millions of visitors each year. During its short course (56 km), the river drops 99 metres, with much of the spectacular plunge concentrated in a 13 km stretch of waterfalls and rapids.
Water was first diverted from the Canadian side of the Niagara River for generating electricity in 1893. A small 2,200 kilowatt plant was built just above the Horseshoe Falls to power an electric railway between the communities of Queenston and Chippawa.
Today the churning river provides the driving force for almost 2 million kilowatts of electricity from a number of power plants on the Canadian side. The three largest are Sir Adam Beck Niagara Generating Station Nos. 1 and 2 and the nearby pumping-generating station.
On the American side of the border, down river from the Falls, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, together generate more than 2.4 million kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 24 million 100-watt lightbulbs. Since 1958, Sir Adam Beck Generating Station No.2 has been Ontario Power Generation’s largest and one of its most reliable hydroelectric facilities.