Electric Utility Glossary
Alternating current: An electric current that reverses directions at regular intervals (typically 60 times a second); abbreviated "AC." This current is found in homes.
Circuit: A complete or partial path followed by a flow of electric current.
Conductor: A substance or material that allows electrons, or electrical current, to flow through it.
Current: The flow of electricity through a conductor.
Direct current: An electric current flowing in only one direction; abbreviated "DC".
Electro magnetic fields: Invisible force fields that surround the movement of electricity.
Fuel cell: A device in which a fuel, such as hydrogen gas, is combined with oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat.
Generator: A machine for producing electrical current when rotated by an external driver such as a turbine.
Grid: A system of interconnected power lines and generators that is managed so that the generators are dispatched as needed to meet the requirements of the customers connected to the grid at various points.
Ground: A connection from an electrical circuit to the earth.
Kilowatt (kW): A unit for measuring electrical energy. 1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt
Kilowatt hour (kWh): The use of 1,000 watts of electricity for one full hour.
Load: The power output of a generator or power plant. Also, the resistance of a device to which power is delivered.
Megawatt: One million watts or 1,000 kW.
Meter: An instrument that records or regulates the amount of something passing through it, like electricity, water or gas.
Switch: A device for connecting, breaking or changing the connections in an electrical circuit.
Transformer: A device that raises or lowers the voltage or force of AC electricity.
Turbine-generator: A machine in which the energy of a moving fluid, such as water or steam, is converted to mechanical power that drives an electric generator.
Volt: A unit for measuring the force used to produce an electric current; the push or force that moves electric current through a conductor.
Watt: A unit for measuring electric power. 1 kilowatt = 1,000 watts. 1 Megawatt = 1,000,000 watts.