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How Electricity Works

Electricity powers your home and almost every activity you do, day in and day out. So, why is it important to understand how electricity works? Understanding electricity not only enhances your appreciation for its significance but also empowers you to make more environmentally conscious choices.


First, the process of powering your home starts with generating electricity. There are many ways to do so. The electricity supplied in California, for example, mainly comes from:

  • Burning of natural gas, coal, and other non-renewable fossil fuels
  • Harnessing solar, wind, and other renewable sources
  • Hydropower plants
  • Nuclear plants

At one point, the cheapest and fastest way to generate electricity was by burning fossil fuels, which also produce the most pollutants and other damaging effects. As of 2020, renewables are now the cheapest energy source thanks to technology advancements lowering their cost and the rising of fossil fuel costs.

Transmission and Distribution

Next, the generated electricity follows a network or grid of supply lines to reach its users. This grid includes:

  • Transmission - The large towers that transport power across long distances. These carry high-voltage electricity for more efficient long-distance transmission.
  • Substations - These act as the intermediary between high-voltage transmission lines and the lower-voltage distribution lines. They help manage and control the flow of electricity, including stepping up or down the voltage as needed.
  • Distribution - Wires or cables either mounted on utility poles or buried underground throughout neighborhoods and communities. These are responsible for providing power at lower voltages to end-users at homes and businesses.

Reducing Grid Reliance with Solar

Imagine the electricity grid is like a busy road. Sometimes, this road gets really crowded because many people and things need electricity at the same time. This puts stress on the grid, making it less efficient. To make things better for the grid and the environment, it's important to be mindful of how we use electricity. Using less electricity during peak times takes some of the pressure off the grid, allowing it to work more smoothly. Plus, when we use electricity wisely, we not only help the grid but also reduce our impact on the environment.


For example, using solar power is an eco-friendly way to get electricity. It doesn't put stress on the grid at all, and it helps us reduce pollution and take care of our planet. So, being smart about how we use electricity and considering clean energy sources like solar can make a big difference!