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  • Melissa Deaver

What is "The Grid"?

We can't imagine life without electricity! It's something we depend upon for everyday life in so many ways. How does the U.S. power grid system actually work?

Click here for an interactive map of all energy and infrastructure resources.

There are 3 main electric grids in the United States that all function independently of each other - Eastern, Western and Texas Interconnections. All three grids source their energy from fossil fuels, nuclear energy and renewable sources. Once power is sourced, the power plants generate electricity by converting it to a usable form.

Once electricity is generated at the plants, it is sent to transmission substations through high-voltage lines all across the county. These substations are crucial to our power system, as they utilize transformers to lower voltages.

Once converted, the distribution network will carry the electricity from the substations to the end users. The distribution transformers, which are located both on utility poles and ground-level enclosures, further reduces the voltage to a safe level for all users.

From the distribution network, electricity is delivered into homes, business and institutions. These lines are connected to the electrical meters on these buildings, which measures the amount of electricity consumed.

There are several challenges to this current system we utilize in the U.S. Extreme weather, equipment failure and cybersecurity threats are a few of these challenges. While the grid is seemingly stable, any one of these threats could dismantle the system and leave consumers without power (remember the 2021 power crisis in Texas?).

While most solar arrays are still reliant on the grid, if only for back up power, there are ways to truly own your own power. Installing a battery back up system in addition to your array is one sure fire way to ensure you can be self-sufficient in hard times. See our blog on going off grid here.

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