Thanks to electricity, you might be feeling cozy and warm wherever you’re reading this at. Without electricity generation, it will be impossible to use household appliances, have hot coffee in the morning, use your laptop, cook, heat yourself, have good lighting at home, and even read this… But where does it come from? Exactly? How does this energy get to you?
Source: Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash
A quick tour of your home’s electricity generation
Of course, you do not need to know the technical points related to electricity generation in detail. However, it is still handy to have a little notion of the origin of this energy that you use every day. How then is electricity generated? In fact, electricity comes from different sources that are transformed into energy. This is the case with fossil fuels, renewable energies, and nuclear power. You need the energy source, and then you must build an efficient production site.
The different sources of electricity
- Fossil fuels and brown energy:
Source: Photo by Mr. teerapon tiuekhom by Shutterstock
To produce electricity, we have used fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil for a long time. They are present at the bottom of the ground or the oceans. And, to use them, you have to extract them. As they’re mining products, they are not inexhaustible. Sooner or later, fossil sources are doomed to disappear.
In addition, fossil fuels are a source of electricity generation that creates atmospheric pollution. They destroy the environment and expose planet earth to the danger of global warming by emitting considerable amounts of greenhouse gases. Therefore, many countries worldwide want to banish them permanently from their energy landscape.
- Nuclear energy:
On the other hand, nuclear power is another source of electricity generation. It comes from a fossil fuel that is none other than uranium. The principle is to free the atoms within it. Nuclear power has gained a lot of popularity in the US as it’s pretty efficient to produce big amounts of power and can also be a green source of energy. It has a predominant place in the energy mix in the US, as it is accountable for 20% of the origins of electricity generation in the country.
Its primary advantage is not polluting, at least not in the traditional way. However, it is dangerous. The main risks to be incurred are explosions at nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous. You’re probably wondering how they work, right? The energy supplied by nuclear energy, for example, will be utilized to heat water, which will then be converted into pressurized water vapor, allowing turbines to create electricity to run.
Here’s an interesting TED video about how nuclear energy works:
- Renewable energy
Source: Image by Seagul from Pixabay
Finally, we must talk about renewable energies. They are experiencing remarkable growth. Their development is increasingly encouraged in the US and in other countries for environmental reasons. Renewable energies come from natural and inexhaustible resources such as the water, the sun, the earth’s heat, the wind, and even from organic or plant matter (for example, wood).
They work by harnessing the power of one of those resources and making it into electricity. For example, wind power uses the force of the wind to push massive propellers connected to electrical generators. On the other hand, burning bagasse (the plant’s fiber remains after the juices from sugar cane have been extracted) in sugar mills boilers is a typical biomass-based renewable energy method.
In the US, based on the information by the EIA, about 60% of the electricity generation was made by coal and fossil fuels, 20% was generated by renewables, and the other 20% was from nuclear. As seen in this chart:
But how do you get power to travel after the electricity generation? Because, as you may have guessed from its construction, it is not a solid substance like wood or rubber, and it only exists due to the motions of the microscopic electrons that make up its structure. So now that we have electricity generation clear, let’s understand who brings the power to your home.
From the power plant to your gadgets, who does what?
Currently, the US has several power plants that are in constant operation. They’re the ones in charge of the electricity generation process.
- Distribution and transmission
If you think about how that energy moves towards you, wires, poles, and transmission lines might be the first thing that pops into your mind. They’re all maintained and operated by your utility company. At the power plant, energy is sent through a “highway” or high voltage line, then, it will take roads depending on its destination, which will therefore be marked out with transformer stations to reach the appropriate voltage level (HTA or High Voltage A for businesses and industrialists and LV or low voltage for individuals and professionals).
- Retail Energy Providers
In the middle of the process, you’ll find the REPs; they are the companies that purchase the power on the wholesale markets and re-sell it to you, the final customer. These suppliers are the ones who have a relationship with the customer: you! Since early 2000, this energy market has been entirely open for competition in some States. Regardless of which provider is chosen, your utility company is responsible for transportation and distribution.
Now that you know more about your home’s electricity generation and the resources it requires, do you better understand why energy deregulation plays a vital role in the energy market? With it, you have the power to choose the REP that best suits your needs and, by controlling your electricity consumption, you reduce your bills since you only pay for what you really need. Smart, right?
At Power Choice Now, we help you find the electricity rate that works best for you, depending on your consumption habits and needs. You just need to enter your zip code and answer some questions regarding your consumption. We’ll then come with the best electricity rates that match your profile; you have the power to choose your energy supplier, enroll in a couple of clicks, and start saving on your energy bills from day one. Don’t forget to check out our electricity supply options while you’re here.