How Does Your Electricity Work?

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The lights flicker. You stop in your tracks. They come back on, and you breathe a sigh of relief.

The truth is, we don’t think about electricity until we don’t have it. Most of the time, we do have it. We plug in our smartphones and our TVs, our refrigerators and our washers; we have light to allow us to see even when the sun goes down. Where does it come from? How does your electricity work?

In grade school, you may have learned that electricity is the flow of electrons from one atom to the next. Electrons move from atom to atom to try to find a balance, and that creates the potential to light up our lives.

That is how electricity occurs at atom level, but how do we get it to power our homes? We start by generating large amounts of electricity using industrial power plants. There are over 3,200 utility companies that own these plants to provide electricity. The electricity is sent from the plants to the power grid. Each utility company owns different parts of the power grid.

The electricity comes through the power grid and reaches your local area and gets to a substation. This substation helps to step down the electricity because it is at a very high voltage. The electricity then travels through service poles which also transform the power to safe voltage levels. Finally the power passes through a meter to measure your electricity usage.

That all happens so you can flip and switch and make light appear. You don’t see most of it happen, but that process is how we provide you with electricity every day. So next time you turn on the light, take a second and think about where your electricity comes from!