How power transmission should work

A rudimentary tour through "the grid."
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  February 11, 2009

Transmission troubles: We're all about wind power - but do we have a way to harness green energy? By Deirdre Fulton.
1. We start at the power plant — like a plant that burns coal or natural gas, a wind farm, a hydroelectric dam, a nuclear plant, a solar array, or something else. Power generated here moves into the...
2. Transmission substation, where it’s channeled into huge, high-voltage power lines for long-distance transmission.*
3. Once it arrives at a power substation, incoming voltage from transmission lines is pumped into distribution grid, where it can be split in different directions and stepped-down to lower (household) voltage, which is how it gets to the...
4. Power lines like the ones that we see on the side of the roads, that lead to...
5. Our homes, lights, computers, and appliances.

*Problems like the ones detailed in this article arise when too much or not enough power is at the transmission substation level. If too much power is generated, there’s gridlock (literally), and it can’t get to the power substation. If not enough power is created, backup power sources are needed, and prices go up.

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