Electric Utilities 101

Live Streaming Online June 15 and 16, 2023

An EUCI Program

Click Here to register $1295

If you are unable to attend at the scheduled date and time, we make recordings available to all registrants for three business days after the event

This course is targeted towards increasing the knowledge of non-technical staff who work or have an interest in the electric utility industry. Since this is a basic seminar, a prior background in electric utility systems or engineering is not expected or required.

The program unpacks basic concepts related to the history of the industry, how electricity works, generation, transmission, distribution, substations, balancing, storage, and ancillary services. It will review the grid, different types of generation and how they work, common acronyms, underground vs. overhead distribution, and the components of a substation. Attendees will gain a full understanding of balancing authorities and energy markets, as well as energy storage technologies and distributed energy resources. All will leave with an appreciation of renewable energy, goals, challenges, and new mechanisms to balance its variability with reliability.

Come with questions and leave armed with a solid foundation of the intricacies of how Electric Utilities work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Review the history of the industry and the fundamentals of electricity
  • Appreciate the diversity of electricity generation and the reasons for the use of each in the electric system (i.e., solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, gas, coal, and what’s next)
  • Discuss transmission and distribution, including differences between underground and overhead, right-of-way, outage causes, and more
  • Explain what substations are used for and their components
  • Analyze the major technological changes occurring with bulk storage, distributed energy resources, resiliency, and more
  • Study renewable integration goals, challenges, tools, and mechanisms to achieve the goals
  • Learn the different organizations to generate and sell electricity such as Direct Access, Electric Service Suppliers, Qualifying Facilities, and Independent Power Producers



9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Central Time

History of the Electricity Industry

  • AC vs. DC and “The Battle of the Currents”
  • How the grid evolved
  • Why was electricity adopted almost overnight as an energy source?
  • Types of Electric Companies
  • Voltage, current, and resistance
  • Electricity measures
  • Real and reactive power; power factor
  • Single-phase and three-phase
  • How a generator makes electricity
  • Frequency; why 50/60 hertz?
  • How energy is converted to make electricity
  • Energy vs. Power, kilowatt-hours vs. kilowatts


  • What does electricity look like and how does it travel?
  • How to calculate your electricity cost
  • How are a kWh and a food Calorie related?
  • How a plug logger works
  • Metric system (kW, MW, GW)

Generation, Renewable Energy

  • How Solar, Wind, Nuclear, Gas, and Coal plants work
  • Baseload vs. peaker plants
  • Future types of power generation
  • Renewable integration
  • Decoupling incentivizes renewable energy goals
  • Direct Access, Electric Service Suppliers, Qualifying Facilities, and Independent Power Producers
  • Vertically integrated utilities
  • Integrated resource plans
  • Community choice aggregates


  • Balancing Authorities
  • How energy markets balance a grid
  • Demand curves and system peak demand
  • Duck curve, surplus capacity and ramp rate
  • Who and what are FERC, NERC, ISO (Independent System Operators), PP (Power Pools), BA (Balancing Authorities), RTO (Regional Transmission Operators), and Interconnections?

Energy Storage, Resiliency, and Ancillary Services

  • Different energy storage technologies. (i.e., pumped hydro, batteries, electrolysis, etc.)
  • Distributed Energy Resources and decentralized generation
  • Frequency response
  • Microgrids and resiliency
  • Flexible renewable generation and flexible load
  • Demand Response, peak shaving, and contingency reserve obligations

FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2023

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Central Time

Transmission & Distribution

  • What is “the Grid”, “the Smart Grid” and the current advancements towards “Grid 2.0”?
  • What is the difference between Generation, Transmission, and Distribution?
  • Acronyms of transformative and new tech and concept behind them (ADMS, SCADA, EMS, DR, DER, VAR, PV, HVDC, QF, DG, RPS, AMS)
  • Primary vs. Secondary
  • Underground vs. Overhead
  • Right of way vs. easements
  • Bluestaking
  • Type of overhead and underground conductors
  • Recognizing the nuts, bolts, parts and pieces of the distribution grid that is all around us
  • EMFs (electromagnetic fields and their effects)
  • Outages causes and restoration
  • The use of helicopters and drones
  • How breakers, fuses, switches, reclosures, and other new protection schemes protect the grid
  • Harmonics
  • How and why do homes have 120V and 240V
  • What are transformers and induction?
  • How 120 and 240 gets to a home wiring
  • What are Power Factor and VARs, and why do we install capacitors?


  • What are substations used for?
  • What are the components of substation?
  • Different types of circuits
  • Looped, radial, and networked feeders
  • What is a feeder load profile?
  • How transformers work and are made
  • What is phase imbalance?
  • Delta / Wye transformers and systems
  • Capacitor banks and power factor
  • What is Real, Reactive, and Apparent Power?

Course Recap, Q&A, and Other Topics of Interest from the Participants


Brent Olsen, President, 3 Phase Consulting

Brent has 25+ years of experience working for large electric utility industries including Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, and Portland General Electric. He has worked in distribution, transmission and generation engineering and is currently a Project Manager for Specialized Energy Operations where he manages the installation of generation facilities, microgrids, distributed energy resources, and various grid edge research and development projects. He leads a user group of utility professionals who follow and discuss business and technological changes in the electric utilities industry.

Brent is an electrical engineer specializing in utility power systems with a masters in Energy Policy and Management and an MBA. He is also a PMP, has a degree in Spanish and is the two-time winner of PGE’s Project Manager and Project of the Year awards.