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Electrical Terms
  • Ampere:Unit of measurement of electric current, akin to cubic feet of water flowing per second.
  • Base Load:That portion of electricity demand on a utility system that remains at a nearly steady level.
  • Base Rates:That portion of a utility's prices covering investment in power plants, substations, wires, poles, equipment and daily operating costs.
  • British Thermal Unit (BtU):Standard unit of heat measurement, equal to raising one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at sea level pressure.
  • Capacity:The load for which an electric generating unit, other electrical equipment or power line is rated.
  • Certificate of Convenience and Necessity:a term used by public service commissions in granting authority to a company to render utility service, usually specifying the area and other conditions of service.
  • Cogeneration:Joint production of electricity and useful heat/steam from a common source.
  • Conductor:Any material (such as a power line) that allows its electrons to be easily transferred.
  • Demand Charge:A separate charge based upon the demand for electric service by a commercial or industrial customer, based on the investment in facilities necessary to serve them.
  • Distribution Lines:Power lines, like those in neighborhoods, used to carry moderate voltage electricity which is "stepped down" to household levels by transformers on power poles.
  • Electricity:The motion of electrons through a conductor.
  • Electrostatic Precipitators:Pollution control devices attached to fossil fuel generating plants which prevent the vast majority of fly ash from being released into the air.
  • Feeder Line:Power lines that travel out from substations to "feed" smaller distribution lines in a certain geographic area
  • Eminent Domain:The authority to acquire land from a private owner for the benefit of public use.
  • Fly ash:Small particles of airborne ash produced by burning fossil fuels.
  • Franchise fee:A local tax imposed on utilities for the privilege of providing a service within city limits.
  • Fuel adjustment Clause:An annual adjustment in rates based on changes in the price of fuel used to generate electricity.
  • High voltage:Voltage greater than 100,000 volts.
  • Kilowatt (kW):1,000 watts.
  • Kilowatt-Hour (kWH):A unit of electricity consumption. A kilowatt-hour equals the amount of electricity needed to burn ten, 100-watt light bulbs for one hour.
  • Kilovolt (kV):1,000 volts.
  • Load:The total customer demand for electric service at any given time.
  • Megawatt (MW):One million watts or 1,000 kilowatts.
  • Natural Monopoly:When the cost of utility service, such as gas, water or electric service, is minimized to customers if a single enterprise is the only seller in the market.
  • Off-System Sales:Sales by a utility to a customer (usually another utility) outside of its authorized market.
  • Peak Demand:A one hour period in a year representing the highest point of customer consumption of electricity.
  • Power Pool:A regional organization of electric companies interconnected for the sharing of reserve generating capacity.
  • Public Utility:A business enterprise rendering a service considered essential to the public and, as such, subject to regulation.
  • Scrubbers:Equipment designed to reduce sulfur emissions from coal-fired generating plants.
  • Service Area:The territory in which a utility has the right to supply service.
  • Service Wire:The set of wires, often bundled, that takes electricity from the transformer on the pole directly to the house or business. Referred to as service cable when installed underground.
  • Substation:A facility where the voltage of electricity is reduced prior to distribution to customers.
  • Transformer:Equipment vital to the transmission and distribution of electricity designed to increase or decrease voltage.
  • Transmission Lines:Power lines normally used to carry high voltage electricity to substations which then is "stepped down" for distribution to individual customers.
  • Volt: The unit of electromotive force or electric pressure, akin to water pressure in pounds per square inch.
  • Watt:The electrical unit of power or rate of doing work.

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