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How is electricity produced and distributed?

The production and distribution of electricity is one of the most complicated and capital-intensive industrial processes in the world.  The effort of thousands of people and the investment of billions of dollars are necessary to ensure the reliable electric service that Americans enjoy.

Although the specifics of producing and distributing electricity are complicated, the underlying fundamentals of generation, transmission, and distribution are simple.

Generation
Electricity is produced, or generated, by the turning of turbines. In most power plants, these turbines are turned by pressurized steam. The steam is created by the burning of coal or other fossil fuels in massive boilers. In the case of hydroelectricity, the force of rushing water turns the turbines.

Transmission
Once the turbines generate the electricity, its voltage is significantly increased by passing it through step-up transformers. Then the electricity is routed onto a network of high-voltage transmission lines capable of efficiently transporting electricity over long distances.

Distribution
At the electric distribution substation that serves your home, the electricity is removed from the transmission system and passed through step-down transformers that lower the voltage. The electricity is then transferred onto your local electric co-op's network of distribution lines and delivered to your home. There, the electricity's voltage is lowered again by a distribution transformer and passed through your electric meter into your home's network of electric wires and outlets.

 

 

Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
4515 Bishop Lane * Louisville, KY  40218
502-451-2430 * FAX: 502-459-3209
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