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Each time you flick a light switch or press a power button, you enjoy the benefits of the nation's incredible electric grid. The grid is a complex network of people and machinery working around the clock to produce and deliver electricity to millions of homes across the nation. The electric grid works so well, Americans often think about it only when they receive their electric bills, or in those rare instances when there is a power outage.
By taking the time to learn more about the grid, you can learn how we as consumers fit into the big picture, and how we can reduce our own home energy costs.
These interactive animations were created to explain the basics of the grid in a fun and informative way. You'll learn about electricity generation, transmission, and distribution, and see how various factors affect the reliability and pricing of electricity.
Power and Energy in the Home – Discover how making simple changes in your energy consumption habits can save money. Click on the graphics to turn off a light or switch to energy-efficient appliances, and watch the running kilowatt-hour meter to see how these changes affect the electricity bill.
Electricity and Time of Use Pricing – Explore the way seasonal 3-tiered and hourly "time of use" pricing plans compare to traditional constant price plans. See how adjusting when you consume energy affects the electricity costs for a household.
The Power Grid – Take control of the grid and learn how different resources affect generation, transmission, distribution, and consumption. See how the system reacts to the changes you make. Be careful not to cause an outage!
Power Economics and Emissions – Learn how to balance electricity needs, costs, and environmental impact in the grid. When "Residenceburg" and "Industryville" use less electricity, their costs go down—and so do the carbon emissions of power production.
Wind and Storage – Explore issues of generation, demand, and transmission of electricity. Click on the graphics to adjust a community's power demand and the output from coal, natural gas, and wind generators. System costs, emissions, and plant capacity are all factors to consider.
These interactive animations were created by the University of Illinois's Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIP) project. TCIP is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Electricity at the Department of Energy. The project aims to create a more intelligent, adaptive power grid that offers increased security and reliability. In hosting these lessons, OE hopes to promote better understanding of the operation of the power grid.