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How the Electric System Works

  1. Generation (Power Source): Electricity is produced by a number of different generation sources. In New York, generating plants make electricity using natural gas, nuclear energy, hydropower, other renewables and coal.
  2. High-voltage transmission lines: Electricity is carried over the bulk electric grid, a network of high-voltage transmission lines that connect power plants to substations and link electric systems between states.

    Transformers at generating plants increase voltage up to a transmission voltage so it can travel long distances over high-voltage transmission lines. The transmission lines carry the electric energy from generating facilities to the places where electricity is used.

    When moving electricity in bulk, it is better to increase the voltage of the lines instead of the intensity of the electric current in order to reduce energy losses and to make the transmission more efficient.
  3. Substations: substations are critical switching points in the electric system, connecting transmission systems to distribution systems. Substations use transformers to lower the voltage of electricity.
  4. Distribution systems: The distribution system links the transmission system to lower-voltage electricity users. Distribution poles are the ones most commonly seen along roadsides – they carry electricity to homes and businesses.