Delivering electricity is a complex task. Behind it lies a series of highly technical functions such as the generation of power, its transmission, and its final distribution to the customer.
Step 1: Generation
Unlike natural gas or oil, electricity cannot be stored easily and must be generated the moment it is needed. Demand for electricity fluctuates depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and other factors. Different kinds of power plants are used to generate power depending on the level of demand.
Nuclear, hydro, coal-based, and combined-cycle natural gas power plants typically work around the clock to provide a steady supply of power.
Pumped storage hydro, natural gas- or oil-based, and renewable (wind and solar) plants provide supplemental electricity during periods of high demand. These generators can be started and stopped quickly, but in many areas these fuels are too expensive or variable to be relied on for a constant supply of power.
Learn more about how the different fuels used to generate electricity are key to affordable and reliable electricity.
Step 2: Transmission and Distribution
- Roll over the steps in the diagram to find out how electricity gets to you.