EBF 483
Introduction to Electricity Markets

1.0 Introduction


1.0 Introduction

Welcome to the power grid! While we will spend much of this course looking at various aspects of electric power generation, transmission, and markets in great detail, for our first lesson, we'll take a high-level look at our power grid. There is a lot about the grid that is changing very quickly. Renewable power supplies are coming on-line at a tremendous pace; the "smart grid" is changing how people interact with the power grid, through programmable appliances to electric vehicles; and we are still trying to figure out the right economic structure for providing electricity efficiently and at a reasonable cost. A major goal of EBF 483 is to teach you not only the way that the grid currently works, but how it is likely to change within your professional lifetime, over the next 10 to 20 years. The course will cover how power systems work, how companies operated before we had developed electricity markets, how modern electricity markets function, and why we needed to create them in the first place.

But first, we'll take a look at the scale of the power grid itself, which is commonly acknowledged to be the most complex thing ever engineered by human-kind. We'll review a major technological battle of the late 1800s that led to the kind of grid that we have today, and we'll meet some of the companies and other actors that are big players in today's power grid.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Identify the three interconnects in the North American power grid
  • Identify and describe the three segments of the electricity supply chain: generation, transmission, and distribution
  • Find and use data from the electricity section of the EIA website
  • Describe why our current grid uses AC power rather than DC power.

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson 1 Roadmap
To Read Online course material
To Do Homework Assignment 1


If you have questions, please feel free to post them to the Questions about EBF 483 discussion forum. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.