ELECTRICITY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION: A CASE STUDY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

BY

UGONNA CHIDERA MBAEZUE. MSc. POWER PLANT TECHNOLOGIES.
REGISTRATION NUMBER: 201189490

for electricity generation. These include: a. In the USA. coal has always been a major source of energy for centuries. constituting close to 24% of energy sources.92 TWh of it.3 million short tons of coal. and also to the relatively low cost of coal.18474kg.5% of total world produced. placing it at the top with 21. of which the United States of America with its population of 304. These policies include incentives to encourage further private investments.000lbs or 907. This has led to wide spread deregulation of the power sector in various countries. and 93% of this total was used to produce 4 trillion kWh of electricity. According to a report by the IEA for the year 2008. it was estimated that the world would consume 18.344 TWh of electricity according to the same data. Another major source of energy in the USA is Natural gas. Pulverised coal system: b. where deposits. In that same year. Coal was the major source of energy generation. rank among the highest in the world.In the world today. from 26 States. Diagram showing coal deposits in the US - In that year. etc. as economic growth rises. Cyclone furnaces: About 738 coal fired power plants are currently in operation in the USA.155. will consume 4.509 million short tons (a short ton approx. taking up to 45% of the total energy sources used. The processes involved. and in the process produces electricity. This in itself has not come without its own problems such as cost per kilowatt of electricity.) and . making it the highest consumer for that year. This is due in part to the inability of the various governments to fund the construction and maintenance of power generation plants. To produce electricity. power generation has become a pressing issue.085. government creates policies aimed at regulating the power generation industry. According to data released by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA).248GWh of the estimated electricity. proven reserves of natural gas for the year 2009 stood at about 272.603TWh of electricity. coal mines in the USA produced about 1. the USA was only able to produce 4119. 2. coal fired power plants burn coal to make steam. In the year 2010 alone. At a later published journal. to complement the older plants already in existence. Therefore to protect itself and also the masses. price capping on electricity prices. which turns a turbine. the United States estimated to produce 4.5 million. this can be attributed both to the abundant deposits of coal found in the US. circulate around the method of feeding the coal into the furnace.

These programs. The government also offers incentives to companies that participate in this program. and ends with its combustion in boilers and turbines to generate electricity. which is then used by a steam turbine to generate electricity.renewable fossil fuel formed when layers of buried plants and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure over years. which involves burning the gas in a combustion turbine and using the hot combustion turbine to make steam to drive a steam turbine is currently being used by most plants. This value has been quite steady for a couple of years. vary from state to state. by generating a portion of their electricity from them. moisture. municipal & state utilities and rural electric co-operatives all play a role in generation. rising to 65 plants with 104 operating nuclear reactors in the year 2010. since the late 80’s. whereby atoms of a commonly used element Uranium-235 are bombarded by neutrons. used to boil water to produce steam. splitting them and in the process. it is transported to the power plants. transmission and distribution of electricity.approximately 21 billion cubic feet is harvested yearly from this source. In most power plants. The Renewables: In the USA. due to the immense deregulation that has occurred in the electricity sector. but sets up commissions to oversee the electricity industry. A cleaner newer technology called the Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT). In the transmission & distribution of generated electricity. The FERC has since gone on to set up the ISO’s (Independent Systems Operators) to oversee transmission grids in single US states and RTO’s (Regional Transmission Organisation) to oversee transmission grids over US regions. Natural gas is a non. A total figure of electricity generation from this sector stands at about 10%. Production process begins with the extraction of natural gas. This method has been found to increase efficiency and also lower carbon emission. These transmission grids are primarily divided into 3 groups: . the government (state) recently introduced a program called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to encourage independent electricity generation companies to focus on renewables available in the US. or about 20% of the Nation's electricity for the year 2010. This heat is then used to produce steam from boiling water. In the case of a nuclear power plant. huge amounts of intense heat is produced. in the USA. finally. Uranium-235 is commonly used. The energy that the plants and animals originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of carbon in natural gas. Due to this deregulation. the USA follows a very complex format. as its atoms are easily split and it is relatively rare in nature. petroleum is used more for transportation and house heating than it is used for electricity generation. it is then treated to remove impurities such as hydrogen sulfide. the number has grown steadily. This is because. Natural gas plants in the US employ various methods to produce electricity from gas and one of them is to burn the gas in a boiler to produce steam. a mix of private utilities. CO2. Third ranked in electricity generation source is Nuclear energy accounting for about one-fifths of total electricity generation. They generated a total of 807 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). a form of fuel is burnt to produce heat. hydrocarbons etc. The first nuclear plant in the USA was commissioned in 1957 and since then. depending on the abundance of each renewable in that state. The Department of Energy handles all energy issues. One of such is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). a process called fission is employed. Petroleum: Only 1% of electricity is generated from this source.

This electricity is usually transmitted as Alternating Current. 5. DC is used to transmit electricity. for example. which basically means that the transmission lines have 3 conductors. and then converted back into the AC form as it flows into the AC lines. through a 3-phase system. therefore single phased loads are fed by individual phases. Canadian System: having integrations with the Eastern and Western Systems. A larger commission called the North American Reliability Council (NERC) encompasses a further two interconnections: 4. Mexico System: having limited interconnections with the Texas & Western Interconnections. This method is used because it requires less conductor material to transmit electricity as opposed to the single or double phase systems at the same voltages. 2. Direct Current is rarely used in transmission in the US. Eastern Interconnection System: consisting of 2/3rds of the US.1. DC systems are used to for power grids connecting the Western Interconnection and the Eastern Interconnection and also occasionally to transmit power from low-cost power plants. and can also be directly delivered to industries where it is required to balance torque in electric motors and generators. because the electricity would have to be rectified from AC to DC as it flows into the DC power lines. and cost more than transformers used to step down current from high to low voltages for end users. the voltages are fed through a distribution board. An example of this is the power line running from northern Canada to the US generated from low-cost hydro-electric plants. The transmission system consists of an extensive complex network of interconnected high voltage power lines which transmit at voltages. ranging from 138kV-765kV and have been designed to transport electricity at the same precise electrical frequency of 60Hz from remote generators to customers. to higher cost regions of the US. Diagram showing the interconnections. . These interconnections are grouped into 152 regional areas and are overseen by the ISOs and RTOs. 3. These converters are quite expensive. splitting them into individual phases. Texas Interconnection System: connects with others through direct current lines. At residential buildings using single phased loads. But occasionally. Western Interconnection System: consisting of the southwest and areas west of the America’s Rocky Mountains. each carrying one-third of the power.

And in the eventuality of an accident. its impact on marine life is usually disastrous. and also provide access to an independent backup grid connection. can schedule power outages in certain parts of the grid. But an interconnection can help support the weak grid. Better maintenance of the grid: Utility companies who own these grids. and plans are currently underway to pump millions of dollars into CO2 capture technology for these plants. its burning. Therefore in the event that a particular method becomes limited. heavy metals such as mercury and volatile compounds which contribute to ground level ozone. This regular maintenance ensures higher reliability of the grid. the half-life of some of these materials run into many years. transmission and distribution in the USA. as systems can share generating resources in an interconnected network. Combination of generation mix and supply security: Different generation methods are combined. e.g. for maintenance purposes and still be sure that their customers will be supplied electricity from other interconnections. as these states can get electricity supply through the grid. to generate electricity. nuclear power.Diagram of electricity generation. e. other generation technologies can be relied upon. Although nuclear fission does not produce CO 2. Support for weaker grids: not all grids are designed to support certain generator technologies. taking into consideration that the physical structures of the repositories could change over time. not to mention the process of its clean up. there are still worldwide fears about the safety of nuclear plants and how to dispose the waste it produces. Although oil represents such a small percentage. Cost of building new generation capacity is reduced. Environmental impact: The use of an interconnected grid system eliminates the need to set up power generation plants in every state. therefore proper research needs to be done. produces significant air pollution in the form of carbon dioxide. One such repository is currently being developed in the Yucca Mountains of the United States. to discover ways in which they can be properly stored. methane (greenhouse gases). It is estimated that 37% of USs’ CO2 emissions come from coal fired plants. The achievement of 100% electrification in the US has not come without damage to the environment. water levels fall due to poor rainfall. . reserves through the interconnected network can be relied upon to supply electricity. As is widely known.g. The benefits of this system (a synchronized interconnected power grid) include: Higher reliability and larger reserve: When supplies are short in one section.

Alternative energy technologies: M. 6.iea. www.org/esa/sustdev/publications/energy/chapter2. 8. 2007. 2003. 2003. January 2011. 5.pdf: Technical Aspects of Grid Interconnection. Oren. US Department of Energy. Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERTS): U.eia. 2. www. 7. Efficient electrical energy transmission and distribution: A report by the International Electrotechnical Commission. March.REFERENCES: 1. Coal-Fired Power Plants in the United States: Examination of the Costs of Retrofitting with CO2 Capture Technology.gov: Annual Energy Review 2010.un. June. 9. The Regulatory Assistance Project. Five Year program plan for fiscal years 2008-2012 for Electric Transmission and Distribution Programs: A report to the United States Congress Pursuant to Section 925. University of California at Berkeley.S. August 2006. Revision 3: National Energy Technology Laboratory. Department of Energy Transmission Bottleneck Project Report: Jim Dyer. L. Electricity Transmission: A Primer: Matthew H. November 2011. www. Ensuring generation adequacy in competitive electricity markets: Shmuel S. 4. Brown & Richard P. June 2004. October 2011 10. Dresselhaus & I.org . S. 3. Sedano. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Thomas.