Electricity literally powers our homes and businesses. We use it constantly from the time we wake up and turn on our charged phones to the time we fall asleep while watching TV. It’s as common to us as breathing but have you ever thought where electricity comes from, how it powers our homes and how it is controlled?
Power is generated via several stages before it can illuminate our homes and places of business. These stages make up a complex system called the ‘grid’ which comprises of an intricate collection of transformers, distributors, substations and power lines. All of them are interconnected to ensure a steady stream of electricity and which connect to larger networks to provide power to larger areas.
In the US, the electricity grid comprises of thousands of miles of power lines along with transformers that connect to just as many power plants. These connect to millions of consumers across the country. If those connections are not monitored constantly or coordinated, entire states can lose power indefinitely depending on the location of the issue.
The grid in the US comprises of 3 massive systems which are connected to one another and which rely on each other to remain stable. To prevent anomalies, grid reliability standards are maintained which are approved by FERC or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
How the Grid Works
As mentioned before, the grid comprises of a series of interconnected systems which work in tandem to generate and distribute electricity. These are:
The Power Station
Power stations generate electricity and are typically located near sources of energy. This includes natural gas reserves, coal mines or large bodies of water in case the generate hydroelectricity. Once it generates electricity, it then needs to send it to the grid so it can distribute it to customers across cities and small towns.
The 1st Substation Transformer
The 1st substation transformer works to increase the voltage or power of the electricity generated so it can be transferred quickly and safely through transmission systems. It sends that electricity to smaller distributors also known as wire systems and power lines.
These networks move the electricity generated in the power plants to distribution systems so it can reach our homes and businesses. Needless to say, the electricity at this point is high voltage so it can travel quickly and efficiently over massive distances.
The 2nd Substation Transformer
The second substation transformer receives this high voltage electricity and reduces its voltage before it is distributed to customers. That’s because common household and office equipment, tech and appliances do not have the capacity to manage that load and can short circuit. High voltage electricity passes through this substation where transformers reduce the voltage before it can be distributed.
Power lines are what carry the electricity from transformers and to us where it can be used safely. Some power lines are underground but most can be seen lining the side of the roads.
Circuits and Meters
Every home and building has a meter that measures how much electricity it consumes on a daily basis. This also includes a switchboard which divides electricity right up to circuits and powers entire structures that way.
Circuits offer closed pathways that allow electricity to flow through for certain tasks such as powering our televisions and tech. It is distributed across homes with aid from outlets and switches that are distributed across the building.
To prevent overloads, circuit breakers are installed. These act as switchers which can be turned off in case the voltage is too high. A fuse does the same thing but they are designed to break the circuit when the wires melt.
Power Distribution Training Course
Learn about the grid and more by signing up for the 360training.com Power Distribution Training Course. The course is designed to help students understand what they need to know about distribution systems, technology that protects systems and other essentials. Sign up for the course today and become more informed.
The training courses can be taken online and are available around the clock so you can attend at your leisure. That is much better than a classroom setting which you cannot reschedule according to your schedule.