# Electric power transmission

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Electric power transmission is the bulk movement of electrical energy from a generating site, such as a power plant, to an electrical substation. The interconnected lines which facilitate this movement are known as a transmission network. This is distinct from the local wiring between high-voltage substations and customers, which is typically referred to as electric power distribution. The combined transmission and distribution network is known as the "power grid" in North America, or just "the grid". In the United Kingdom, India, Myanmar, Malaysia and New Zealand, the network is known as the "National Grid".

Electrical energy is energy derived from electric potential energy or kinetic energy. When used loosely, "electrical energy" refers to energy that has been converted from electric potential energy. This energy is supplied by the combination of electric current and electric potential that is delivered by an electrical circuit. At the point that this electric potential energy has been converted to another type of energy, it ceases to be electric potential energy. Thus, all electrical energy is potential energy before it is delivered to the end-use. Once converted from potential energy, electrical energy can always be called another type of energy.

A substation is a part of an electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system. Substations transform voltage from high to low, or the reverse, or perform any of several other important functions. Between the generating station and consumer, electric power may flow through several substations at different voltage levels. A substation may include transformers to change voltage levels between high transmission voltages and lower distribution voltages, or at the interconnection of two different transmission voltages.

Electric power distribution is the final stage in the delivery of electric power; it carries electricity from the transmission system to individual consumers. Distribution substations connect to the transmission system and lower the transmission voltage to medium voltage ranging between 2 kV and 35 kV with the use of transformers. Primary distribution lines carry this medium voltage power to distribution transformers located near the customer's premises. Distribution transformers again lower the voltage to the utilization voltage used by lighting, industrial equipment or household appliances. Often several customers are supplied from one transformer through secondary distribution lines. Commercial and residential customers are connected to the secondary distribution lines through service drops. Customers demanding a much larger amount of power may be connected directly to the primary distribution level or the subtransmission level.

## Contents

A wide area synchronous grid, also known as an "interconnection" in North America, directly connects a large number of generators delivering AC power with the same relative frequency to a large number of consumers. For example, there are four major interconnections in North America (the Western Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection, the Quebec Interconnection and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid). In Europe one large grid connects most of continental Europe.

A wide area synchronous grid is a three-phase electric power grid that has regional scale or greater that operates at a synchronized frequency and is electrically tied together during normal system conditions. Also known as synchronous zones, the most powerful is the synchronous grid of Continental Europe (ENTSO-E) with 667 gigawatts (GW) of generation, while the widest region served being that of the IPS/UPS system serving countries of the former Soviet Union. Synchronous grids with ample capacity facilitate electricity market trading across wide areas. In the ENTSO-E in 2008, over 350,000 megawatt hours were sold per day on the European Energy Exchange (EEX).

The Western Interconnection is a wide area synchronous grid and one of the two major alternating current (AC) power grids in the continental U.S. power transmission grid. The other major wide area synchronous grid is the Eastern Interconnection. The three minor interconnections are the Québec Interconnection, the Texas Interconnection, and the Alaska Interconnection.

The Eastern Interconnection is one of the two major alternating-current (AC) electrical grids in the continental U.S. power transmission grid. The other major interconnection is the Western Interconnection. The three minor interconnections are the Quebec, Alaska, and Texas interconnections.

Historically, transmission and distribution lines were owned by the same company, but starting in the 1990s, many countries have liberalized the regulation of the electricity market in ways that have led to the separation of the electricity transmission business from the distribution business. [1]

In economic terms, electricity is a commodity capable of being bought, sold, and traded. An electricity market is a system enabling purchases, through bids to buy; sales, through offers to sell; and short-term trades, generally in the form of financial or obligation swaps. Bids and offers use supply and demand principles to set the price. Long-term trades are contracts similar to power purchase agreements and generally considered private bi-lateral transactions between counterparties.

## System

Most transmission lines are high-voltage three-phase alternating current (AC), although single phase AC is sometimes used in railway electrification systems. High-voltage direct-current (HVDC) technology is used for greater efficiency over very long distances (typically hundreds of miles). HVDC technology is also used in submarine power cables (typically longer than 30 miles (50 km)), and in the interchange of power between grids that are not mutually synchronized. HVDC links are used to stabilize large power distribution networks where sudden new loads, or blackouts, in one part of a network can result in synchronization problems and cascading failures.

Three-phase electric power is a common method of alternating current electric power generation, transmission, and distribution. It is a type of polyphase system and is the most common method used by electrical grids worldwide to transfer power. It is also used to power large motors and other heavy loads.

Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction, in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction. Alternating current is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug kitchen appliances, televisions, fans and electric lamps into a wall socket. A common source of DC power is a battery cell in a flashlight. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.

In electrical engineering, single-phase electric power is the distribution of alternating current electric power using a system in which all the voltages of the supply vary in unison. Single-phase distribution is used when loads are mostly lighting and heating, with few large electric motors. A single-phase supply connected to an alternating current electric motor does not produce a revolving magnetic field; single-phase motors need additional circuits for starting, and such motors are uncommon above 10 kW in rating.

Electricity is transmitted at high voltages (115 kV or above) to reduce the energy loss which occurs in long-distance transmission. Power is usually transmitted through overhead power lines. Underground power transmission has a significantly higher installation cost and greater operational limitations, but reduced maintenance costs. Underground transmission is sometimes used in urban areas or environmentally sensitive locations.

The term high voltage usually means electrical energy at voltages high enough to inflict harm on living organisms. Equipment and conductors that carry high voltage warrant particular safety requirements and procedures. In certain industries, high voltage means voltage above a particular threshold (see below). High voltage is used in electrical power distribution, in cathode ray tubes, to generate X-rays and particle beams, to demonstrate arcing, for ignition, in photomultiplier tubes, and in high power amplifier vacuum tubes and other industrial, military and scientific applications.

An overhead power line is a structure used in electric power transmission and distribution to transmit electrical energy along large distances. It consists of one or more conductors suspended by towers or poles. Since most of the insulation is provided by air, overhead power lines are generally the lowest-cost method of power transmission for large quantities of electric energy.

Undergrounding is the replacement of overhead cables providing electrical power or telecommunications, with underground cables. This is typically performed for fire prevention and to make the power lines less susceptible to outages during high wind thunderstorms or heavy snow or ice storms. An added benefit of undergrounding is the aesthetic quality of the landscape without the powerlines. Undergrounding can increase the initial costs of electric power transmission and distribution but may decrease operational costs over the lifetime of the cables.

A lack of electrical energy storage facilities in transmission systems leads to a key limitation. Electrical energy must be generated at the same rate at which it is consumed. A sophisticated control system is required to ensure that the power generation very closely matches the demand. If the demand for power exceeds supply, the imbalance can cause generation plant(s) and transmission equipment to automatically disconnect or shut down to prevent damage. In the worst case, this may lead to a cascading series of shut downs and a major regional blackout. Examples include the US Northeast blackouts of 1965, 1977, 2003, and major blackouts in other US regions in 1996 and 2011. Electric transmission networks are interconnected into regional, national, and even continent wide networks to reduce the risk of such a failure by providing multiple redundant, alternative routes for power to flow should such shut downs occur. Transmission companies determine the maximum reliable capacity of each line (ordinarily less than its physical or thermal limit) to ensure that spare capacity is available in the event of a failure in another part of the network.

A power outage is a short-term or a long-term loss of the electric power to a particular area.

The New York City blackout of 1977 was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City on July 13–14, 1977. The only neighborhoods in the city that were not affected were in southern Queens; neighborhoods of the Rockaways, which were part of the Long Island Lighting Company system; and the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn which operated its own historic power generator.

The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario on August 14, 2003, beginning just after 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Four-circuit, two-voltage power transmission line; "Bundled" 2-ways
A typical ACSR. The conductor consists of seven strands of steel surrounded by four layers of aluminium.

High-voltage overhead conductors are not covered by insulation. The conductor material is nearly always an aluminum alloy, made into several strands and possibly reinforced with steel strands. Copper was sometimes used for overhead transmission, but aluminum is lighter, yields only marginally reduced performance and costs much less. Overhead conductors are a commodity supplied by several companies worldwide. Improved conductor material and shapes are regularly used to allow increased capacity and modernize transmission circuits. Conductor sizes range from 12 mm2 (#6 American wire gauge) to 750 mm2 (1,590,000 circular mils area), with varying resistance and current-carrying capacity. For normal AC lines thicker wires would lead to a relatively small increase in capacity due to the skin effect (which causes most of the current to flow close to the surface of the wire). Because of this current limitation, multiple parallel cables (called bundle conductors) are used when higher capacity is needed. Bundle conductors are also used at high voltages to reduce energy loss caused by corona discharge.

Today, transmission-level voltages are usually considered to be 110 kV and above. Lower voltages, such as 66 kV and 33 kV, are usually considered subtransmission voltages, but are occasionally used on long lines with light loads. Voltages less than 33 kV are usually used for distribution. Voltages above 765 kV are considered extra high voltage and require different designs compared to equipment used at lower voltages.

Since overhead transmission wires depend on air for insulation, the design of these lines requires minimum clearances to be observed to maintain safety. Adverse weather conditions, such as high wind and low temperatures, can lead to power outages. Wind speeds as low as 23 knots (43 km/h) can permit conductors to encroach operating clearances, resulting in a flashover and loss of supply. [2] Oscillatory motion of the physical line can be termed gallop or flutter depending on the frequency and amplitude of oscillation.

## Underground transmission

Electric power can also be transmitted by underground power cables instead of overhead power lines. Underground cables take up less right-of-way than overhead lines, have lower visibility, and are less affected by bad weather. However, costs of insulated cable and excavation are much higher than overhead construction. Faults in buried transmission lines take longer to locate and repair.

In some metropolitan areas, underground transmission cables are enclosed by metal pipe and insulated with dielectric fluid (usually an oil) that is either static or circulated via pumps. If an electric fault damages the pipe and produces a dielectric leak into the surrounding soil, liquid nitrogen trucks are mobilized to freeze portions of the pipe to enable the draining and repair of the damaged pipe location. This type of underground transmission cable can prolong the repair period and increase repair costs. The temperature of the pipe and soil are usually monitored constantly throughout the repair period. [3] [4] [5]

Underground lines are strictly limited by their thermal capacity, which permits less overload or re-rating than overhead lines. Long underground AC cables have significant capacitance, which may reduce their ability to provide useful power to loads beyond 50 miles (80 kilometres). DC cables are not limited in length by their capacitance, however, they do require HVDC converter stations at both ends of the line to convert from DC to AC before being interconnected with the transmission network.

## History

In the early days of commercial electric power, transmission of electric power at the same voltage as used by lighting and mechanical loads restricted the distance between generating plant and consumers. In 1882, generation was with direct current (DC), which could not easily be increased in voltage for long-distance transmission. Different classes of loads (for example, lighting, fixed motors, and traction/railway systems) required different voltages, and so used different generators and circuits. [6] [7]

Due to this specialization of lines and because transmission was inefficient for low-voltage high-current circuits, generators needed to be near their loads. It seemed, at the time, that the industry would develop into what is now known as a distributed generation system with large numbers of small generators located near their loads. [8]

The transmission of electric power with alternating current (AC) became possible after Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs built what they called the secondary generator, an early transformer provided with 1:1 turn ratio and open magnetic circuit, in 1881.

The first long distance AC line was 34 kilometres (21 miles) long, built for the 1884 International Exhibition of Turin, Italy. It was powered by a 2 kV, 130 Hz Siemens & Halske alternator and featured several Gaulard secondary generators with their primary windings connected in series, which fed incandescent lamps. The system proved the feasibility of AC electric power transmission on long distances. [7]

A very first operative AC line was put into service in 1885 in via dei Cerchi, Rome, Italy, for public lighting. It was powered by two Siemens & Halske alternators rated 30 hp (22 kW), 2 kV at 120 Hz and used 19 km of cables and 200 parallel-connected 2 kV to 20 V step-down transformers provided with a closed magnetic circuit, one for each lamp. Few months later it was followed by the first British AC system, which was put into service at the Grosvenor Gallery, London. It also featured Siemens alternators and 2.4 kV to 100 V step-down transformers one per user with shunt-connected primaries. [9]

Working from what he considered an impractical Gaulard-Gibbs design, electrical engineer William Stanley, Jr. developed what is considered the first practical series AC transformer in 1885. [10] Working with the support of George Westinghouse, in 1886 he installed demonstration transformer based alternating current lighting system in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Powered by a steam engine driven 500 V Siemens generator, voltage was stepped down to 100 Volts using the new Stanley transformer to power incandescent lamps at 23 businesses along main street with very little power loss over 4000 feet. [11] This practical demonstration of a transformer and alternating current lighting system would lead Westinghouse to begin installing AC based systems later that year. [10]

1888 saw designs for a functional AC motor, something these systems had lacked up till then. These were induction motors running on polyphase current, independently invented by Galileo Ferraris and Nikola Tesla (with Tesla’s design being licensed by Westinghouse in the US). This design was further developed into the modern practical three-phase form by Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky and Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown. [12] Practical use of these types of motors would be delayed many years by development problems and the scarcity of poly-phase power systems needed to power them. [13] [14]

The late 1880s and early 1890s would see a financial merger of many smaller electric companies into a few larger corporations such as Ganz and AEG in Europe and General Electric and Westinghouse Electric in the US. These companies continued to develop AC systems but the technical difference between direct and alternating current systems would follow a much longer technical merger. [15] Due to innovation in the US and Europe, alternating current's economy of scale with very large generating plants linked to loads via long distance transmission was slowly being combined with the ability to link it up with all of the existing systems that needed to be supplied. These included single phase AC systems, poly-phase AC systems, low voltage incandescent lighting, high voltage arc lighting, and existing DC motors in factories and street cars. In what was becoming a universal system, these technological differences were temporarily being bridged via the development of rotary converters and motor-generators that would allow the large number of legacy systems to be connected to the AC grid. [15] [16] These stopgaps would slowly be replaced as older systems were retired or upgraded.

The first transmission of single-phase alternating current using high voltage took place in Oregon in 1890 when power was delivered from a hydroelectric plant at Willamette Falls to the city of Portland 14 miles downriver. [17] The first three-phase alternating current using high voltage took place in 1891 during the international electricity exhibition in Frankfurt. A 15 kV transmission line, approximately 175 km long, connected Lauffen on the Neckar and Frankfurt. [9] [18]

Voltages used for electric power transmission increased throughout the 20th century. By 1914, fifty-five transmission systems each operating at more than 70 kV were in service. The highest voltage then used was 150 kV. [19] By allowing multiple generating plants to be interconnected over a wide area, electricity production cost was reduced. The most efficient available plants could be used to supply the varying loads during the day. Reliability was improved and capital investment cost was reduced, since stand-by generating capacity could be shared over many more customers and a wider geographic area. Remote and low-cost sources of energy, such as hydroelectric power or mine-mouth coal, could be exploited to lower energy production cost. [6] [9]

The rapid industrialization in the 20th century made electrical transmission lines and grids a critical infrastructure item in most industrialized nations. The interconnection of local generation plants and small distribution networks was greatly spurred by the requirements of World War I, with large electrical generating plants built by governments to provide power to munitions factories. Later these generating plants were connected to supply civil loads through long-distance transmission. [20]

## Bulk power transmission

Engineers design transmission networks to transport the energy as efficiently as feasible, while at the same time taking into account economic factors, network safety and redundancy. These networks use components such as power lines, cables, circuit breakers, switches and transformers. The transmission network is usually administered on a regional basis by an entity such as a regional transmission organization or transmission system operator.

Transmission efficiency is greatly improved by devices that increase the voltage (and thereby proportionately reduce the current), in the line conductors, thus allowing power to be transmitted with acceptable losses. The reduced current flowing through the line reduces the heating losses in the conductors. According to Joule's Law, energy losses are directly proportional to the square of the current. Thus, reducing the current by a factor of two will lower the energy lost to conductor resistance by a factor of four for any given size of conductor.

The optimum size of a conductor for a given voltage and current can be estimated by Kelvin's law for conductor size, which states that the size is at its optimum when the annual cost of energy wasted in the resistance is equal to the annual capital charges of providing the conductor. At times of lower interest rates, Kelvin's law indicates that thicker wires are optimal; while, when metals are expensive, thinner conductors are indicated: however, power lines are designed for long-term use, so Kelvin's law has to be used in conjunction with long-term estimates of the price of copper and aluminum as well as interest rates for capital.

The increase in voltage is achieved in AC circuits by using a step-up transformer . HVDC systems require relatively costly conversion equipment which may be economically justified for particular projects such as submarine cables and longer distance high capacity point-to-point transmission. HVDC is necessary for the import and export of energy between grid systems that are not synchronized with each other.

A transmission grid is a network of power stations, transmission lines, and substations. Energy is usually transmitted within a grid with three-phase AC. Single-phase AC is used only for distribution to end users since it is not usable for large polyphase induction motors. In the 19th century, two-phase transmission was used but required either four wires or three wires with unequal currents. Higher order phase systems require more than three wires, but deliver little or no benefit.

The price of electric power station capacity is high, and electric demand is variable, so it is often cheaper to import some portion of the needed power than to generate it locally. Because loads are often regionally correlated (hot weather in the Southwest portion of the US might cause many people to use air conditioners), electric power often comes from distant sources. Because of the economic benefits of load sharing between regions, wide area transmission grids now span countries and even continents. The web of interconnections between power producers and consumers should enable power to flow, even if some links are inoperative.

The unvarying (or slowly varying over many hours) portion of the electric demand is known as the base load and is generally served by large facilities (which are more efficient due to economies of scale) with fixed costs for fuel and operation. Such facilities are nuclear, coal-fired or hydroelectric, while other energy sources such as concentrated solar thermal and geothermal power have the potential to provide base load power. Renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaics, wind, wave, and tidal, are, due to their intermittency, not considered as supplying "base load" but will still add power to the grid. The remaining or 'peak' power demand, is supplied by peaking power plants, which are typically smaller, faster-responding, and higher cost sources, such as combined cycle or combustion turbine plants fueled by natural gas.

## Merchant transmission

Merchant transmission is an arrangement where a third party constructs and operates electric transmission lines through the franchise area of an unrelated incumbent utility.

Operating merchant transmission projects in the United States include the Cross Sound Cable from Shoreham, New York to New Haven, Connecticut, Neptune RTS Transmission Line from Sayreville, New Jersey to New Bridge, New York, and Path 15 in California. Additional projects are in development or have been proposed throughout the United States, including the Lake Erie Connector, an underwater transmission line proposed by ITC Holdings Corp., connecting Ontario to load serving entities in the PJM Interconnection region. [36]

There is only one unregulated or market interconnector in Australia: Basslink between Tasmania and Victoria. Two DC links originally implemented as market interconnectors, Directlink and Murraylink, have been converted to regulated interconnectors. NEMMCO

A major barrier to wider adoption of merchant transmission is the difficulty in identifying who benefits from the facility so that the beneficiaries will pay the toll. Also, it is difficult for a merchant transmission line to compete when the alternative transmission lines are subsidized by incumbent utility businesses with a monopolized and regulated rate base. [37] In the United States, the FERC's Order 1000, issued in 2010, attempts to reduce barriers to third party investment and creation of merchant transmission lines where a public policy need is found. [38]

## Health concerns

Some large studies, including a large study in the United States, have failed to find any link between living near power lines and developing any sickness or diseases, such as cancer. A 1997 study found that it did not matter how close one was to a power line or a sub-station, there was no increased risk of cancer or illness. [39]

The mainstream scientific evidence suggests that low-power, low-frequency, electromagnetic radiation associated with household currents and high transmission power lines does not constitute a short or long term health hazard. Some studies, however, have found statistical correlations between various diseases and living or working near power lines. No adverse health effects have been substantiated for people not living close to powerlines. [40]

The New York State Public Service Commission conducted a study, documented in Opinion No. 78-13 (issued June 19, 1978), to evaluate potential health effects of electric fields. The study's case number is too old to be listed as a case number in the commission's online database, DMM, and so the original study can be difficult to find. The study chose to utilize the electric field strength that was measured at the edge of an existing (but newly built) right-of-way on a 765 kV transmission line from New York to Canada, 1.6 kV/m, as the interim standard maximum electric field at the edge of any new transmission line right-of-way built in New York State after issuance of the order. The opinion also limited the voltage of all new transmission lines built in New York to 345 kV. On September 11, 1990, after a similar study of magnetic field strengths, the NYSPSC issued their Interim Policy Statement on Magnetic Fields. This study established established a magnetic field interim standard of 200 mG at the edge of the right-of-way using the winter-normal conductor rating. This later document can also be difficult to find on the NYSPSC's online database, since it predates the online database system. As a comparison with everyday items, a hair dryer or electric blanket produces a 100 mG - 500 mG magnetic field. An electric razor can produce 2.6 kV/m. Whereas electric fields can be shielded, magnetic fields cannot be shielded, but are usually minimized by optimizing the location of each phase of a circuit in cross-section. [41] [42]

When a new transmission line is proposed, within the application to the applicable regulatory body (usually a public utility commission), there is often an analysis of electric and magnetic field levels at the edge of rights-of-way. These analyses are performed by a utility or by an electrical engineering consultant using modelling software. At least one state public utility commission has access to software developed by an engineer or engineers at the Bonneville Power Administration to analyze electric and magnetic fields at edge of rights-of-way for proposed transmission lines. Often, public utility commissions will not comment on any health impacts due to electric and magnetic fields and will refer information seekers to the state's affiliated department of health.

There are established biological effects for acute high level exposure to magnetic fields well above 100  µT (1  G) (1,000 mG). In a residential setting, there is "limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in experimental animals", in particular, childhood leukemia, associated with average exposure to residential power-frequency magnetic field above 0.3 µT (3 mG) to 0.4 µT (4 mG). These levels exceed average residential power-frequency magnetic fields in homes, which are about 0.07 µT (0.7 mG) in Europe and 0.11 µT (1.1 mG) in North America. [43] [44]

The Earth's natural geomagnetic field strength varies over the surface of the planet between 0.035 mT and 0.07 mT (35 µT - 70 µT or 350 mG - 700 mG) while the International Standard for the continuous exposure limit is set at 40 mT (400,000 mG or 400 G) for the general public. [43]

Tree Growth Regulator and Herbicide Control Methods may be used in transmission line right of ways [45] which may have health effects.

## Policy by country

### United States

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the primary regulatory agency of electric power transmission and wholesale electricity sales within the United States. It was originally established by Congress in 1920 as the Federal Power Commission and has since undergone multiple name and responsibility modifications. That which is not regulated by FERC, primarily electric power distribution and the retail sale of power, is under the jurisdiction of state authority.

Two of the more notable U.S. energy policies impacting electricity transmission are Order No. 888 and the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Order No. 888 adopted by FERC on 24 April 1996, was “designed to remove impediments to competition in the wholesale bulk power marketplace and to bring more efficient, lower cost power to the Nation’s electricity consumers. The legal and policy cornerstone of these rules is to remedy undue discrimination in access to the monopoly owned transmission wires that control whether and to whom electricity can be transported in interstate commerce.” [46] Order No. 888 required all public utilities that own, control, or operate facilities used for transmitting electric energy in interstate commerce, to have open access non-discriminatory transmission tariffs. These tariffs allow any electricity generator to utilize the already existing power lines for the transmission of the power that they generate. Order No. 888 also permits public utilities to recover the costs associated with providing their power lines as an open access service. [46] [47]

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) signed into law by congress on 8 August 2005, further expanded the federal authority of regulating power transmission. EPAct gave FERC significant new responsibilities including but not limited to the enforcement of electric transmission reliability standards and the establishment of rate incentives to encourage investment in electric transmission. [48]

Historically, local governments have exercised authority over the grid and have significant disincentives to encourage actions that would benefit states other than their own. Localities with cheap electricity have a disincentive to encourage making interstate commerce in electricity trading easier, since other regions will be able to compete for local energy and drive up rates. For example, some regulators in Maine do not wish to address congestion problems because the congestion serves to keep Maine rates low. [49] Further, vocal local constituencies can block or slow permitting by pointing to visual impact, environmental, and perceived health concerns. In the US, generation is growing four times faster than transmission, but big transmission upgrades require the coordination of multiple states, a multitude of interlocking permits, and cooperation between a significant portion of the 500 companies that own the grid. From a policy perspective, the control of the grid is balkanized, and even former energy secretary Bill Richardson refers to it as a third world grid. There have been efforts in the EU and US to confront the problem. The US national security interest in significantly growing transmission capacity drove passage of the 2005 energy act giving the Department of Energy the authority to approve transmission if states refuse to act. However, soon after the Department of Energy used its power to designate two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, 14 senators signed a letter stating the DOE was being too aggressive. [50]

## Special transmission

### Grids for railways

In some countries where electric locomotives or electric multiple units run on low frequency AC power, there are separate single phase traction power networks operated by the railways. Prime examples are countries in Europe (including Austria, Germany and Switzerland) which utilize the older AC technology based on 16 2/3 Hz (Norway and Sweden also use this frequency but use conversion from the 50 Hz public supply; Sweden has a 16 2/3 Hz traction grid but only for part of the system).

### Superconducting cables

High-temperature superconductors (HTS) promise to revolutionize power distribution by providing lossless transmission of electrical power. The development of superconductors with transition temperatures higher than the boiling point of liquid nitrogen has made the concept of superconducting power lines commercially feasible, at least for high-load applications. [51] It has been estimated that the waste would be halved using this method, since the necessary refrigeration equipment would consume about half the power saved by the elimination of the majority of resistive losses. Some companies such as Consolidated Edison and American Superconductor have already begun commercial production of such systems. [52] In one hypothetical future system called a SuperGrid, the cost of cooling would be eliminated by coupling the transmission line with a liquid hydrogen pipeline.

Superconducting cables are particularly suited to high load density areas such as the business district of large cities, where purchase of an easement for cables would be very costly. [53]

HTS transmission lines [54]
LocationLength (km)Voltage (kV)Capacity (GW)Date
Carrollton, Georgia2000
Albany, New York [55] 0.3534.50.0482006
Long Island [56] 0.61300.5742008
Tres Amigas 5Proposed 2013
Manhattan: Project HydraProposed 2014
Essen, Germany [57] [58] 1100.042014

### Single wire earth return

Single-wire earth return (SWER) or single wire ground return is a single-wire transmission line for supplying single-phase electrical power for an electrical grid to remote areas at low cost. It is principally used for rural electrification, but also finds use for larger isolated loads such as water pumps. Single wire earth return is also used for HVDC over submarine power cables.

### Wireless power transmission

Both Nikola Tesla and Hidetsugu Yagi attempted to devise systems for large scale wireless power transmission in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with no commercial success.

In November 2009, LaserMotive won the NASA 2009 Power Beaming Challenge by powering a cable climber 1 km vertically using a ground-based laser transmitter. The system produced up to 1 kW of power at the receiver end. In August 2010, NASA contracted with private companies to pursue the design of laser power beaming systems to power low earth orbit satellites and to launch rockets using laser power beams.

Wireless power transmission has been studied for transmission of power from solar power satellites to the earth. A high power array of microwave or laser transmitters would beam power to a rectenna. Major engineering and economic challenges face any solar power satellite project.

## Security of control systems

The Federal government of the United States admits that the power grid is susceptible to cyber-warfare. [59] [60] The United States Department of Homeland Security works with industry to identify vulnerabilities and to help industry enhance the security of control system networks, the federal government is also working to ensure that security is built in as the U.S. develops the next generation of 'smart grid' networks. [61]

## Related Research Articles

A high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) electric power transmission system uses direct current for the bulk transmission of electrical power, in contrast with the more common alternating current (AC) systems. For long-distance transmission, HVDC systems may be less expensive and suffer lower electrical losses. For underwater power cables, HVDC avoids the heavy currents required to charge and discharge the cable capacitance each cycle. For shorter distances, the higher cost of DC conversion equipment compared to an AC system may still be justified, due to other benefits of direct current links. HVDC uses voltages between 100 kV and 1,500 kV.

The electric power industry covers the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electric power to the general public and industry. The commercial distribution of electric power started in 1882 when electricity was produced for electric lighting. In the 1880s and 1890s, growing economic and safety concerns lead to the regulation of the industry. What was once an expensive novelty limited to the most densely populated areas, reliable and economical electric power has become an essential aspect for normal operation of all elements of developed economies.

Single-wire earth return (SWER) or single-wire ground return is a single-wire transmission line which supplies single-phase electric power from an electrical grid to remote areas at low cost. Its distinguishing feature is that the earth is used as the return path for the current, to avoid the need for a second wire to act as a return path.

Joule heating, also known as Ohmic heating and resistive heating, is the process by which the passage of an electric current through a conductor produces heat.

Power engineering, also called power systems engineering, is a subfield of electrical engineering that deals with the generation, transmission, distribution and utilization of electric power, and the electrical apparatus connected to such systems. Although much of the field is concerned with the problems of three-phase AC power – the standard for large-scale power transmission and distribution across the modern world – a significant fraction of the field is concerned with the conversion between AC and DC power and the development of specialized power systems such as those used in aircraft or for electric railway networks. Power engineering draws the majority of its theoretical base from electrical engineering.

The HVDC Inter-Island link is a 610 km (380 mi) long, 1200 MW bipolar high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system connecting the electricity networks of the North Island and South Island of New Zealand together. It is commonly referred to as the Cook Strait cable in the media and in press releases, although the term is a complete misnomer. The link is much longer than its Cook Strait section, and it is not a single cable: the link actually consists of three operational HVDC power cables. The link is owned and operated by state-owned transmission company Transpower New Zealand.

In the electricity sector in the United Kingdom the National Grid is the high-voltage electric power transmission network covering Great Britain, connecting power stations and major substations and ensuring that electricity generated anywhere on it can be used to satisfy demand elsewhere. The network covers the great majority of Great Britain and several of the surrounding islands. Notably, it does not cover Ireland; Northern Ireland is part of a single electricity market with the Republic of Ireland.

A traction network or traction power network is an electricity grid for the supply of electrified rail networks. The installation of a separate traction network generally is only done if the railway in question uses alternating current (AC) with a frequency lower than that of the national grid, such as in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

A submarine power cable is a transmission cable for carrying electric power below the surface of the water. These are called "submarine" because they usually carry electric power beneath salt water but it is also possible to use submarine power cables beneath fresh water. Examples of the latter exist that connect the mainland with large islands in the St. Lawrence River.

Railway electrification systems using alternating current (AC) at 15 kilovolts (kV) and 16.7 Hertz (Hz) are used on transport railways in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway. The high voltage enables high power transmission with the lower frequency reducing the losses of the traction motors that were available at the beginning of the 20th century. Railway electrification in late 20th century tends to use 25 kV, 50 Hz AC systems which has become the preferred standard for new railway electrifications but extensions of the existing 15 kV networks are not completely unlikely. In particular, the Gotthard Base Tunnel still uses 15 kV, 16.7 Hz electrification.

In lossless power transmission, a supergrid with hydrogen is an idea for combining very long distance electric power transmission with liquid hydrogen distribution, to achieve superconductivity in the power lines. The hydrogen is both a distributed fuel and a cryogenic coolant for the power lines, rendering them superconducting. The concept's advocates describe it as being in a "visionary" stage, for which no new scientific breakthrough is required but which requires major technological innovations before it could progress to a practical system. A system for the United States is projected to require "several decades" before it could be fully implemented.

An electric power system is a network of electrical components deployed to supply, transfer, and use electric power. An example of an electric power system is the grid that provides power to an extended area. An electrical grid power system can be broadly divided into the generators that supply the power, the transmission system that carries the power from the generating centres to the load centres, and the distribution system that feeds the power to nearby homes and industries. Smaller power systems are also found in industry, hospitals, commercial buildings and homes. The majority of these systems rely upon three-phase AC power—the standard for large-scale power transmission and distribution across the modern world. Specialised power systems that do not always rely upon three-phase AC power are found in aircraft, electric rail systems, ocean liners and automobiles.

The electricity sector in New Zealand uses mainly renewable energy sources such as hydropower, geothermal power and increasingly wind energy. 82% of energy for electricity generation is from renewable sources, making New Zealand one of the lowest carbon dioxide emitting countries in terms of electricity generation. Electricity demand has grown by an average of 2.1% per year from 1974 to 2010 but decreased by 1.2% from 2010 to 2013.

A super grid or supergrid is a wide-area transmission network that makes it possible to trade high volumes of electricity across great distances. It is sometimes also referred to as a "mega grid".

The National Grid is the nationwide system of electric power transmission in New Zealand. The national electricity transmission grid is owned, operated, and maintained by state-owned enterprise Transpower New Zealand, although some lines are owned by local distribution companies and leased to Transpower. In total, the national grid contains 11,803 kilometres (7,334 mi) of high-voltage lines and 178 substations.

## References

Notes

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• The Physics of Everyday Stuff - Transmission Lines