The Electric Industry Explained

What do most people know about electricity? They know that they flip a switch and electricity makes their lights go on. They know that they need electricity to run their computers and appliances. And they know that their cell phones will not work unless they are fully charged with electricity. 

But what if they wanted to better understand the details of the electricity crises that are in the news? Crises like the potential for cyber-attacks on the electric grid; or the risks of the aging electric infrastructure; or the impact of fossil fuel generation on climate change.

They might search out resources that explain electricity and its delivery. But those resources are likely to be filled with technical terms like Ohms and Watts and Volts. What they really need is a resource with simple, easy to understand explanations of electricity, the electric industry and the issues that now face that industry. They need something that explains the electric industry.

My name is I. David Rosenstein and I worked in the electric industry for 40 years. At various times during my career I worked for utility customers, Rural Electric Cooperatives, traditional investor owned regulated utilities and deregulated power generation companies.

When I retired I used my insider’s perspective to write a book entitled Electrifying America: From Thomas Edison to Climate Change. Electrifying America is an easy to understand non-technical description of the electric industry’s efforts to deliver reliable and affordable electric service over the past 135 years. It begins with the 1880s War of the Electric Currents between Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla. It continues through the excesses of the Power Trusts in the 1920s, multiple large scale power blackouts, the 1973 Arab Oil embargo, the Three Mile Island accident, California’s misadventure with competitive power supply and Enron’s bankruptcy. 

While Electrifying America is a good basic resource for those that want to better understand the electric industry, it is really only a start. I have created this Blog to continue the work that I started with Electrifying America.  Each Post in this Blog consists of a simple explanation of a different aspect of the electric industry. The Posts are organized into Tutorials that explain the past, present and future of the industry. Those Tutorials are followed by sets of study questions that test the reader’s understanding of the presented material.

While I already have a long list of subjects that I intend to cover in these Posts I would appreciate any suggestions that readers may have for subjects that they would like to see addressed.