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The distribution network refers to the last mile delivery of electricity to homes and offices. Many household appliances use AC directly, although there are instances when DC power is needed. Rectifiers are devices that convert AC to DC power. They contain diodes that work by allowing current to flow in one direction, but not the opposite. The digital world is a prominent example, as computers, telephones, digital satellites, and other communication devices all work by direct current. Automobile accessories and all other battery-operated devices also use direct current. Power generated by photovoltaics and fuel cells is in the form of DC and is therefore more convenient to use when operating these devices. On the other hand, when electricity is generated for transmission over commercial networks using photovoltaics and fuel cells, it must undergo DC to AC conversion using inverters before it can be connected to the grid.

The electrical operator matches electricity consumption with production, mostly by bringing new generation capability online when needed and taking it offline when demand falls. The operators can also decide to get electricity from certain power companies to lower costs and better serve their customers. To attract customers, power and transmission companies find incentives to invest in technologies that improve their performance and make them more competitive.


(1) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

Bureau of Naval Personnel, Basic Electricity, Dover Publishing Company.

The Environmental Effects of Electricity Generation, IEEE, 1995.

The Electricity Journal, Direct Science Elsevier Publishing Company, This journal addresses issues related to generating power from natural gas-fired cogeneration and renewable energy plants (wind power, biomass, hydro and solar).

International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems, Direct Science Elsevier Publishing Company.

Home Power Magazine (http://www.homepower.com).

External Links

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (http://www.ferc.gov).

Energy Information Agency, Department of Energy (http://www.eia.doe.gov/fuelelectric.htm).

California Energy Commission (http://www.energy.ca.gov/electricity).

National Council on Electricity Policy (http://www.ncouncil.org).

Southern California Edison (http://www.sce.com).

Pacific Gas and Electric (http://www.pge.com).