Transmission & Distribution
After we produce electricity, we have to get it to our customers. Our cities, towns, states and the entire country are crisscrossed with power lines that carry that electricity.
Our large generators typically produce electricity at about 14,000 volts. A transformer at the power plant “steps” the voltage up to 115,000 volts before we distribute the energy to customers over a transmission line. By using a higher transmission line voltage, we reduce the losses that happen when moving the energy from the generators to our customers.
The long, thick cables of transmission lines are made of copper or aluminum because they have a low resistance. The higher the resistance of a wire, the warmer it gets. So, some of the electrical energy is lost when it gets changed into heat energy. High voltage transmission lines carry electricity long distances to a substation.
The power lines go into substations near businesses, factories and homes. There, transformers “step down” the electricity from high voltage to lower voltage levels.
From these substations, electricity in different power levels runs factories, street lights and stop lights, and it’s sent to your neighborhood.
In your neighborhood, another small transformer mounted on pole or in a utility box converts the power to even lower levels to be used in your house. The voltage is eventually reduced to 220 volts for larger appliances, like stoves and clothes dryers, and 110 volts for lights, TVs and other smaller appliances.
When electricity enters your home, it must pass through a meter. We have systems that read your meter so we know how much electricity you used and how much to bill you for what you used.
Know your Power Lines
To get power to homes and businesses, we rely on two main types of power line structures - transmission towers and distribution poles equipped with transformers.
Transmission Line Citing Process
Step 1: Identify the need
With energy use on the rise and electrical demand fast approaching the limits of existing transmission systems, new facilities are needed to meet growing demand and to continue to provide safe, reliable energy to our customers.
Step 2: Identifying route options
Preliminary routes are analyzed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. This process evaluates environmental effects of a federal undertaking and possible alternatives to the route.
Step 3: Public input
Care and consideration is key to doing business with our neighbors. We understand the transmission line siting process can be challenging and we make every effort to ensure there are open lines of communication while working with those critical to a project. Public involvement is a part of the routing process, and feedback from the affected communities and property owners is gathered to help determine a final line route. Throughout the process, We work closely with local officials, landowners and the public.
Step 4: Final route selected
The final route is determined after a thorough analysis through the NEPA process and community input from the public meetings. Once selected, We apply for all necessary permits and approvals from federal and state agencies and local jurisdictions.
Step 5: Begin construction
Throughout the construction process, we work directly with landowners to obtain rights-of-way on private lands. Common transmission towers are wooden or steel H-frame structures or tubular steel self-supporting towers averaging a height of 65-75 feet.