Modernization and the Future
When the Rankine Generating Station opened in 1905, it was the most technologically advanced hydroelectric generating facility in the world. Over time, the technology became outdated and changes were needed to keep up with current standards. In the case of the Rankine Station, modernization efforts were geared to reducing the manpower needed in the facility. As a result, automation equipment was installed to streamline its operations.
A significant upgrade occurred in the 1950s when the Ontario government encouraged a province wide conversion from 25-cycle power to 60-cycle power. Accordingly, Canadian Niagara Power converted much of its transmission and distribution to 60-cycle power in 1957-58. The station continued to generate power at 25-cycle. The power that was not exported to the United States was sold to Ontario Hydro under an arrangement that provided Canadian Niagara with the 60-cycle power it needed. This arrangement continued for about 50 years.
In addition, Canadian Niagara Power began to allow Ontario Hydro to use some of its water allotment. An agreement between the two companies permitted Ontario Hydro to use some of Canadian Niagara's water when mutually convenient. Ontario Hydro's generating facilities are more efficient because of its location further downstream. It could produce more power using the same amount of water.
As the water rights of the company neared expiration, the future of the Rankine Generating Station was uncertain. This was addressed in 2005 with the Niagara Exchange Agreement. This agreement stipulated that ownership of the Rankine Generating Station would be turned over to the Niagara Parks Commission on May 1, 2009. Under a separate agreement, Canadian Niagara's water allotment would be given to Ontario Power Generation (formerly Ontario Hydro). The station was decommissioned in 2006.
Currently, the Niagara Parks Commission is planning to transform the Rankine Generating Station into an attraction that will celebrate its history. Construction is underway to preserve and adapt the building for reuse, with plans to open the building to the public in July 2021. In 2022, there are plans to open the tailrace tunnel for the public to explore. People will once again be able to access and appreciate this marvel of architecture and engineering, just as they did when the Canadian Niagara Company powerhouse opened in 1905.