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Generating Electricity

This is what it takes.

It’s not easy to turn, say, a drop of water, a gust of wind or some colorless gas into a warm house or a tasty meal.

Yet, that’s what we do every day. And despite the intricacies involved, in the end it’s very simple. We work to make life better for the people of our communities. People like you. That’s all there is to it.

It starts with generation. At a dam, for instance, the power plant converts the force of falling water into electricity. Water flows into a large pipe called a penstock, then into the turbines inside the powerhouse. As the turbine shaft is pushed by the water, it turns and the generators connected to it move and produce electricity. The water continues on, back into the river or lake from which it came.

A similar process occurs with wind turbines, in our biomass generators, and in our natural gas-fired generation facilities.

Once we generate the energy, we send it at a high voltage over transmission lines to a substation. At the substation, the energy is "stepped down," or converted to a lower voltage, for distribution over the lines connected to your home or business.

It doesn’t end with the energy you use today, of course. Our infrastructure has to be ready to deliver the energy you’ll need tomorrow — right when you need it. We’re hard at work on that, too.

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How Energy Works 

The creation of hydroelectricity begins at the dam, where the power plant converts the force of falling water into electricity. Water from a lake or river flows into a large pipe called a penstock [1] located in the upstream side of the dam structure. The water then flows into the turbines [2] inside the powerhouse [3]. The turbine shaft is turned by the force of water pushing against the turbine blades [4]. Generators [5] connected to the turbine’s shaft [6] rotate as the turbines move, producing electricity. The same amount of water that entered the dam returns to the river [7] unchanged. Water not used for energy production is released over the spillway [8]. Transformers [9] convert the electricity generated to higher voltage levels for transmission over power lines [10]. Transmission lines carry the electricity to the substations [11] and on to the distribution system [12] where the voltage is reduced to levels for your use.


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