U.S. Electric Grid

Electrical energy that connects together

Electric Grid

The system for supplying electricity to American homes is very complicated. Energy is generated in power plants and then goes through a system of distribution and conversion to the end consumer. These systems for distributing electricity are called electric grids.

Eastern Interconnection

Eastern Interconnection is one of the two largest AC distribution networks. The transmission network stretches from central Canada to the south coast of Florida. About one-third of all energy is generated using renewable energy sources.

Western Interconnection

The Western Interconnection stretches from Canada to California and connects all the electric grids into one big grid operating at 60 Hertz. The estimated capacity of the power grid is about 300 GW. Renewable resources, such as solar, water and wind power, account for about 46% of all energy generated in the region.

Texas Interconnection

Texas Interconnection is one of the smallest networks and covers most of the state of Texas. The power grid provides electricity to about 90% of the population of Texas. Because of the special natural conditions, solar and wind power play an important role in the energy mix.

US Electrical Grid

How does it work?

Electricity is generated in many power plants and before the consumer turns on the light in the house or turns on the television, electrical energy goes through many stages of transformation through the electrical grid. The electric grid has covered the entire country from the farthest reaches of Alaska to the southern borders of the country.

Thousands and thousands of miles of wires carry electricity from power plants to the end consumer. The U.S. electric grid is the largest in the world, with more than 7,000 electric substations and nearly three million power lines. The production of electrical energy on an industrial scale began in the first half of the twentieth century. From Edison's first machines to today's electricity transmission systems, a little more than a hundred years have passed. The need for electricity grew especially rapidly after World War II. The result was the construction of a large electric grid consisting of three large interconnected grids.

The gigantic network of electric power transmission requires resources for its restoration, renewal, and development. The U.S. president's administration plans to spend billions of dollars to upgrade and improve the electricity distribution system. Energy consumption in the country is growing and new power lines are being built every day using the latest technology.

US Electric Grid: Various Sources

Various Sources

Electrical energy is generated in power plants. The main sources for power plants are fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and water power. The main source of energy is still energy from fossil fuels. This is the energy of gas and oil. The shale revolution, which took place in the U.S. in the 2010s, has significantly increased domestic oil and gas production and ensured the energy independence of the United States.

The share of fossil fuels in U.S. primary energy production was 79%. This follows data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Nuclear power accounted for 7% and renewable energy for 13%. Among fossil fuels, gas generates the largest amount of primary energy, 45% of all fossil fuels. Petroleum products account for 30% of all fossil fuels. Coal accounts for 15% of fossil fuels. Natural gas liquids account for the smallest share of 9% of fossil fuels.

The share of wind and solar energy in total primary energy production in the USA was 5.8%. Nuclear power has been at about the same level for about 20 years. The use of coal has been decreasing sharply for more than 10 years.

US Electric Grid: Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

Green energy sources include wind farms, solar plants, hydroelectric power plants, as well as geothermal and biomass power plants. The use of renewable energy is evidence of the trend to phase out coal and switch to cleaner energy sources to combat climate change.

Historically, the main source of energy up to the middle of the 19th century was wood. But in the 1880s the first hydroelectric power plants appeared, and coal was used to produce electricity. It was the main source of electricity in the country until 2016, when the shale revolution in the U.S. resulted in plenty of cheap natural gas.

Many large companies in the U.S. are planning to switch completely to renewable energy sources. Amazon, a well-known company, plans to have all of its operations powered by renewable energy by 2025, and to be carbon neutral by 2040. Corporations are trying to match the general trend of technology companies developing projects related to renewable energy sources.

US Electric Grid: Energy Transmission

Energy Transmission

Long-distance transmission of electricity is accomplished by means of power lines that cover the entire country. Transmission lines transmit electricity at high voltages from power plants to electrical substations. High-voltage power lines are interconnected into one large grid.

Initially, the transmission and distribution of electricity was handled by the same companies. The liberalization and demonopolization of the U.S. electricity market has led to different companies being involved in transmission and distribution electricity.

Everyone at least once in their lives has seen tall steel towers with wires strung between them. These are high-voltage power lines. High voltage is used to reduce losses in transmitting energy. Low voltage is more convenient and is used to supply electricity to homes. Electric power transmission system, the crucial part between generating power plants and customers, is in need of upgrading and expansion.

US Electric Grid: Energy Distribution

Energy Distribution

Power distribution systems consist mainly of low-voltage transmission lines that receive power from substations. Substations receive power from distributed transmission networks via high-voltage lines. Millions of miles of power distribution lines supply tens of millions of consumers.

Now the electricity distribution system is separate from the transmission system, they are different business sectors. Unlike the transmission system, the distribution system has a radial structure. One substation supplies electricity to many customers. One customer usually receives electricity from only one substation.

Power distribution systems are more flexible than transmission systems, so the introduction of new technologies and upgrades to existing equipment is faster in this sector of the business.

US Electric Grid: Regulation


The original transmission networks were not heavily regulated. But after a series of blackouts in the mid-1960s, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) was founded. The organization was created to improve coordination and interoperability among the different electric grids and to raise standards in the industry.

NERC helped create standards in power generation and transmission. By analyzing disruptions in power generation and transmission, the organization has developed standards that have significantly improved and made power generation and transmission more stable.

In 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) developed the Energy Policy Act, which is the main document regulating the generation and transmission of electricity at the federal level. In addition to regulation at the federal level, there are many regulatory documents at the local level to govern local electric grids in the United States.