An electrical grid is an interconnected network for delivering electricity from producers to consumers. It consists of generating stations that produce electrical power, high voltage transmission lines that carry power from distant sources to demand centers, and distribution lines that connect individual customers.

Power stations may be located near a fuel source, at a dam site, or to take advantage of renewable energy sources, and are often located away from heavily populated areas. The electric power which is generated is stepped up to a higher voltage at which it connects to the electric power transmission net. (See also:  How electricity is delivered to the grid).

The bulk power transmission network will move the power long distances, sometimes across international boundaries, until it reaches its wholesale customer (usually the company that owns the local electric power distribution network).

On arrival at a substation, the power will be stepped down from a transmission level voltage to a distribution level voltage. As it exits the substation, it enters the distribution wiring. Finally, upon arrival at the service location, the power is stepped down again from the distribution voltage to the required service voltage(s).

 

Net metering (also known as net energy metering or NEM) is a solar incentive that allows you to store energy in the electric grid. When your solar panels produce excess power, that energy is sent to the grid and in exchange you can pull from the grid when your system is under-producing like during nighttime.

With the right size solar energy system, you can produce enough electricity to match your home’s electricity use for the entire year. However, the amount of electricity your solar panels produce will vary throughout the year. Net metering helps you account for these differences by crediting you for the excess electricity your panels produce so you can use it later.

 

While each utility company will have a their own bill there are some basic principles that are the same.  Most bills will consist of five elements:

  1. customer's usage in kWhs

  2. rate per kWh

  3. Generation charges

  4. Distribution charges

  5. Miscellaneous charges

Simply take the total bill amount and divide by the kWhs used and this will give you the true price the customer is paying.  When reviewing a bill with a customer, it is important explain the charges to them and to draw out the pain points and turn their anger and frustration into a need.  You will want to drive a commitment to take action.

 

Click on the light bulb next to each charge to learn more about that charge on your utility bill.

Utility Charges

Coal fired power plants are a type of power plant that make use of the combustion of coal in order to generate electricity. Their use provides around 40% of the world's electricity.  The use of coal produces large quantities of different pollutants which reduces air quality and contributes to climate change.

"Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts. Coal has long been a reliable source of American energy, but it comes with tremendous costs because it is incredibly dirty."

- Union of Concerned Scientists (www.ucsusa.org) 

 

The conversion of this coal to the end goal of electricity is a multi-faceted process:

  1. The coal must be unloaded from the train. Traditional ways of doing this require the use of cranes picking up the coal from the cars, however newer plants have the floor underneath the train tracks drop away, allowing the coal to be dropped into underground containment.  Many coal plants are mine mouth which means the plant was put where the coal mine is, so the coal doesn't need to be transported by train.

  2. Once unloaded, the coal is then pulverized into a fine powder by a large grinder. This ensures nearly complete burning of the coal in order to maximize the heat given off and to minimize pollutants.

  3. The pulverized coal is then input to a boiler, where combustion occurs and the coal provides heat to the power plant. This heat is transferred to pipes containing high pressured water, which boils to steam.

  4. The steam then travels through a turbine, causing it to rotate extremely fast which in turn spins a generator, producing electricity. The electricity can then be input to the electrical grid for use by society.

A nuclear power plant or nuclear power station is a thermal power station in which the heat source is a nuclear reactor. As is typical of thermal power stations, heat is used to generate steam that drives a steam turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity.

 

Unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants, nuclear reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating. However, the processes for mining and refining uranium ore and making reactor fuel all require large amounts of energy. Nuclear power plants also have large amounts of metal and concrete, which require large amounts of energy to manufacture. If fossil fuels are used for mining and refining uranium ore, or if fossil fuels are used when constructing the nuclear power plant, then the emissions from burning those fuels could be associated with the electricity that nuclear power plants generate.

 

 

A major environmental concern related to nuclear power is the creation of radioactive wastes such as uranium mill tailings, spent (used) reactor fuel, and other radioactive wastes. These materials can remain radioactive and dangerous to human health for thousands of years. Radioactive wastes are subject to special regulations that govern their handling, transportation, storage, and disposal to protect human health and the environment. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates the operation of nuclear power plants.

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