Check your answers to see how much you know about our energy grid.
1. The three key phases to get electricity from power plants to our lightbulbs are:
a) Generation, transmission, and distribution
b) Generation, storage, and transport
c) Capture, transmission, and spark
d) Produce, transport, activate
There are three main components on the electricity journey: generation, transmission, and distribution. Generation is the production of electricity, whether from fossil fuels like coal or methane gas, or renewable resources like solar or wind. Transmission is how electricity is transported over long distances, and distribution is how electricity gets delivered to the place it’s used – like your home or place of work.
2. How many power grids are there in the United States?
The U.S. has three electric grids – the Eastern Interconnection, Western Interconnection, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Interconnection. Within the Western Interconnection, our region’s grid, there are Balancing Authorities that are responsible for ensuring reliability within their footprint (in other words, ensuring that supply meets demand).
In the West, energy suppliers and purchasers typically buy and sell power through individual contracts and comply with their own states’ laws and regulations. This is inefficient and drives up costs by making collaboration between Balancing Authorities more difficult. The lack of regional planning reduces market competition and can stifle innovation, slow decarbonization efforts, and create reliability risks.
3. A well-designed regional wholesale electricity market would be:
a) Flexible in response to variable levels of supply and demand
b) Transparent and accountable to consumers
c) Equitable and reliable across sub-regions
d) All of the above!
A well-designed regional wholesale electricity market, like a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), would be flexible in response to variable levels of supply and demand, transparent and accountable to consumers, and equitable and reliable across sub-regions.
Well-designed RTOs combine all the Balancing Authorities in a region and create transparent, independent, and fair oversight. By removing barriers between operators, they foster better information sharing, make electricity transfers faster and easier, and ultimately increase the efficiency of our grid. WRA is working with state policymakers, electric utilities, consumer groups, and clean energy advocates to strengthen existing markets and ultimately establish a West-wide RTO.
Thank you to WRA’s sponsors for their support:
Impact sponsor: FirstBank
Premier sponsor: Sol-Up, Stellar Power
Signature sponsors: Denver Water, Torch Clean Energy