Transmission in the US – where are the lines?
In the United States, we generate most of our electricity in large power plants far from our homes and offices. The electrons that arrive at your house might have literally traveled hundreds of miles in order to turn on your lights and computer. This energy travels first over high voltage transmission lines – these are the big, thick silver towers strung with wires high up in the air – and then is stepped down to a distribution network of lower voltage lines like the ones you see running down your neighborhood’s streets (think wooden poles that sometimes are taken down by a falling tree).
Today, transmission lines in the United States run along more than 160,000 miles as a part of three main interconnections (East, West, and Texas) and distribution lines extend over (literally) millions of miles. The incredible accomplishment that was the creation this network of power lines was recognized in 2003 when the National Academy of Engineering named electrification – or more specifically the electric grid – as the top engineering achievement of the twentieth century.