The U.S. electric grid is on the brink of a major change, with rooftops all over the country poised to become adorned with solar panels and the other accoutrementsof locally-generated renewable energy, pushing electricity onto the grid while also serving homes.
But how does today’s power grid work?
As part of what it called Grid Week in mid-November, the U.S. Department of Energy published a cool new infographic showing how the power grid operates.
The DOE’s graphic and facts about the grid and how it works are especially helpful now that new regulations may soon demand that electric power be generated with fewer fossil fuels and be used more efficiently in an effort to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.
The power grids in the U.S. — there are actually three of them — are enormously complex, but they’re traditionally based on a simple idea: Electricity moves in one direction, from a power plant to homes along high voltage transmission lines and lower voltage power lines that distribute electricity to individual homes and neighborhoods.
So, in a nutshell, electricity is generated at a power plant usually far away from the load — the people who are using that power at any given moment. A transformer near the power plant steps up the voltage of the electricity, which is then sent long distances along transmission lines.
Once the transmission lines reach the area they’re serving, the voltage is reduced at another transformer and the electricity follows smaller distribution lines to homes and businesses.
Changes are on the way, however.
There are efforts to build a smart grid in many places, a computerized grid that allows for two-way communication between a utility and customers, allowing power to be used and produced more efficiently.
Microgrids, small grids connecting buildings with a local power source separate from the main grid, are being considered as tools to keep the lights on during disasters.
On its website, the DOE also highlights a few things not commonly known about power grids in the U.S.
For example, the first commercial power grid was built in Lower Manhattan in New York City in 1882.
Today, the three main power grids — one for the eastern U.S., one for the West and one serving most of Texas — include more than 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. That’s enough to wrap around the Earth’s equator 18 times.
Those are the basics of the power grid today, helpful information to know when tackling climate change demands more discussion of smart grids, microgrids and other innovations in where electricity comes from and how it gets to homes across the country.
‘It’s a disgrace’: Conservative torches Trump and the GOP — saying they’ve betrayed voters
In 2012, Stuart Stevens served as the chief strategist for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and tried to prevent President Barack Obama from winning a second term; in 2020, he is a Never Trump conservative who is rooting for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. And when Stevens appeared on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour” on Thursday night, August 6, he stressed to host Brian Williams that many GOP incumbents — from President Donald Trump to members of Congress — could be in trouble in November.
Promoting his new book, “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” Stevens told Williams, “This is a very negative environment for Republicans…. There are external forces out there that make this a very tough race for incumbents in the Republican Party.”
Mask-hating Trump supporter banned from local store after she ‘rammed someone with a cart’: report
A woman who was permanently banned from entering a local hardware store for refusing to wear a face mask tells Vox that she's proud that her defiance of public health standards got her kicked out.
In an interview, a Wyoming resident named Jacqueline says that her local Menards home and garden store has told her that she is no longer allowed to shop there for refusing to wear a face mask on two separate occasions.
Although she was still allowed to shop at the store after the first time she came in without a face mask, she was permanently given the boot when she got into a physical altercation with an employee during her second trip to the store.
Expert: NRA had to be obliterated by New York for one very important reason
The New York attorney general's aggressive moves against the National Rifle Association might have been handled by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a former federal prosecutor.
State attorney general Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the powerful lobbying group over claims of rampant fraud, but former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade's new column for The Daily Beast calls out the Justice Department's inaction.
"Like other cases of corruption, this easily could have been framed as a criminal case," McQuade wrote. "Filing false registration and disclosure documents as part of a scheme to defraud can serve as the basis for federal mail or wire fraud, and often does in public corruption cases. When I served as a federal prosecutor, my former office brought public corruption cases on such theories in similar cases in which officials misused funds for personal benefit."