Most of us take reliable electric power for granted. Do you know what it takes to get power to you?
Power Plant/Hydroelectric Dam
At a generating plant, electric energy is produced using gas, coal, oil, nuclear or, especially in the Pacific Northwest, water.
Transformers at generating plants increase the voltage up to 345,000 volts so it can travel long distances over high-voltage transmission lines.
High-Voltage Transmission Lines
These lines carry electricity across long distances.
These transformers reduce electricity to 69,000 volts, making it suitable for short-distance delivery.
Local Distribution Substation
Local electric utilities operate these smaller substations to reduce electricity to 7,200 to 14,000 volts for distribution to users.
Utility-owned lines carry power to transformers that reduce power to 120/240 or 120/208 volts for consumers. They also may transmit any consumer-owned generation—such as from solar panels—onto the grid.
Consumer-Owned Renewable Generation
Solar panels, geothermal collection, a methane digestor or a wind turbine is interconnected to the utility’s lines. A cut-off switch is installed that disconnects the device from the line to protect personnel working during an outage or maintenance.