Electric Utilities 101

October 6-7 | Online

Click Here to Register ($1295)


This seminar is targeted toward increasing the knowledge of non-technical staff who work or have an interest in the electric utility industry. Participants who are not familiar with utilities and electric power systems can significantly benefit from attending. Since this is a basic seminar, a prior background in electric utility systems or engineering is not expected or required. 

The seminar discusses basic concepts ranging from “what is electricity?” to the functions of the major components in electric power systems. The attendee will learn how generation, substations, transmission, and distribution function together to provide a reliable energy supply chain. The seminar identifies opportunities, challenges, and uncertainties facing the electric utility industry resulting from a paradigm shift driven by customers, technology, legislation, and regulation.  

The seminar is presented in a professional manner which is not stressful. No one will be called on to participate; however, it is delivered in a way which encourages questions and interactive discussions between the attendees and the instructor on the issues they are facing and the things they want to learn. It is not death by PowerPoint; the participants will have a fun and rewarding learning experience. 

The following topics will be included from a non-technical perspective: 

  • A history and background of the electric industry and the major non-utility players
  • Types of electric companies; IOUs, cooperatives, public power, and government utilities
  • What is electricity and its voltage, current, and resistive components?
  • What is power and how does it relate to voltage, current, and resistance?
  • Real and reactive power and their role in the electrical system; power and load factor
  • What is single phase and three phase power? How are they produced and used?
  • Types and reasons for diverse forms of generation; Traditional and renewable
  • Distributed energy resources (DER); Solar, batteries, and customer self-generation
  • Energy efficiency and demand response’s role in the new utility marketplace
  • The role of substations in a reliable electric grid 
  • The types and functions of transmission lines in the energy supply chain
  • Major components in the distribution systems and how they contribute to a reliable system
  • The key performance indicators used in monitoring reliability
  • The Paradigm shift occurring in the industry and its marketplace from vertically integrated to distributed energy resources
  • The need for non-traditional rate structures; the evolution in rates such as the REV in NY
  • Strategic technologies and their impact on both the utilities and its customers; Smart Grids
  • Changing customer’s needs, wants, expectations, and demographics and how utilities must adapt

Learning Outcomes  

  • Review the utility industry and its concepts and hardware used in electric power supply chain
  • Discuss the history of the industry and how it continues to evolve
  • Identify the non-utility players who shape the industry
  • Explain the types of electricity generation and the reasons for their use in the electric system
  • Examine the components and functions of substation, transmission, and distribution systems
  • Analyze the paradigm shift occurring in the industry and its impact on the electric utilities and their customers



9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Course Timing (Central Time)

Introduction of Instructor and Attendees 

  • Company, where it is located, attendee responsibilities and how long in the industry 

Learning Objectives and Goals of the Course 

History of the U.S. Electricity Industry 

  • How the industry began and its early years 
  • AC vs. DC; Edison and Tesla and “The Battle of the Currents”
  • Groups that shaped the industry 
  • The evolution of state and federal regulation
  • Types of electric companies; IOUs, cooperatives, public power, and government utilities
  • Service areas and retail competition
  • Open access, FERC Orders 888 & 889, PURPA, and EPAC
  • Wholesale markets evolution with RTOs & ISOs
  • The Electric utility historical vertically integrated business model
  • The risks of a capital-intensive industry 

Electricity and Power – An Overview 

  • Voltage, current, and resistance (impedance)
  • Power and its relationship to voltage, current, and resistance (impedance)
  • Electricity measures; kWh, KW, MW, kVA, VARS 
  • Load factor and why it’s important 
  • The concept of load diversity 
  • Real and reactive power and power factor 
  • Leading and lagging power in non-technical terms 
  • The role of capacitor banks in correcting power factor 
  • Single phase and three phase power—how are they produced and used? 
  • System losses, their cause, and mitigation 
  • KPI – reliability indices – SAIDI, SAIFI, CAIDI, etc. 

Generation or Power Plants – The First Link in the Power Supply Chain 

  • Coal, nuclear, natural gas-fired, hydro, wind and solar, batteries, and distributed energy resources 
  • Basic components of generation and how the different components function in the first step of the energy supply chain 
  • Energy generation by fuel type and how it is evolving due to technology and legislation  
  • Factors impacting generation fuel diversity 
  • Energy, capital, and O&M costs by type of generation 
  • Base, peak, intermediate generation, and the concept of economic dispatch 
  • Voltage and frequency; generation’s role in regional reliability 

Substations – Nodes in the Power System 

  • The role of substations in a reliable electric grid
  • How substations link the generator to the transmission and distribution system
  • Types of substations; step up and step down 
  • Major substation components and their function 
  • SCADA systems and the role of substations in controlling power flow across the supply chain 

Transmission Lines – The Bulk Power Movers in the Power System 

  • The role of transmission lines in a reliable electric grid 
  • The need for high voltage transmission lines 
  • System loss reduction due to transmission lines and power flow across the supply chain 
  • How transmission lines link substations  
  • Types of transmission lines  
  • Voltages and design 
  • AC vs. DC transmission lines and their pros and cons 
  • First contingency planning and the evolution of the transmission system 
  • Major transmission components and their function 



8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Log In

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Course Timing


Distribution System – The Link to the Customer 

  • The role of the distribution system in the supply chain
  • The primary and secondary distribution lines 
  • Major distribution system components and their function
  • How the distribution lines connect to the customer
  • System loss at the distribution level 
  • Power factor correction on the distribution system 
  • Types of distribution lines 
  • Voltages and overhead/underground design 

System Problems – New Challenges 

  • Operating in a difficult environment 
  • Power quality 
  • Different types of loads which are computer managed 
  • Regional blackouts 8/14/2003 and 9/8/2011 and their aftermath 

The Future Utility and the Paradigm Shift 

  • The evolution of the historical utility business model 
  • Strategic technologies are changing the marketplace 
  • Customer self-generation with solar and batteries and their role in the paradigm shift 
  • Stagnant energy growth and electricity use 
  • Renewable and energy portfolio standards 
  • Energy efficiency and demand response’s role in the new utility marketplace 
  • The need for non-traditional electric rates and the leading players in the rate evolution 
  • Changing customer’s needs, wants, expectations, and demographics and how utilities must adapt 
  • Residential, commercial, and industrial load profiles and demand drivers 

Course Recap and Other Topics of Interest from the Participants