Public Power Terminology

  • Aggregators: Entities who seek to bring together customers to create a "load" so that they can buy power in bulk, taking advantage of economies of scale.
  • Ampere (amp):  Unit that measures electrical current in a circuit.
  • Baseload Capacity: Generating units, such as coal-fired steam and combined cycle plants, that are used around the clock to meet consumer's electric needs.
  • Capacity:  The maximum load a generating unit, generating station, or other electrical apparatus is rated to carry or can actually carry under existing service conditions.
  • Circuit:  Conductor for electric current.
  • Combustion Turbine Plants: Electric generating units, usually gas and/or oil-fired, that are typically used for peaking capacity.
  • Combined Cycle Plants: Electric generating units in which electricity is produced from otherwise lost, wasted heat, in the form of steam, exiting from one or more combustion turbines.
  • Coal-Fired Steam Units: Generating plants that use the steam produced by heating water with burning coal to create electricity.
  • Current:  Current is the flow of electrons in an electric conductor.
  • Demand:  The rate at which electric energy is delivered to or by a system, part of a system, or a piece of equipment.  The primary source of demand is the power-consuming equipment of the customers.
  • Deregulation:The ability of generation companies or brokers to sell electricity directly to retail consumers, utilizing regulated transmission lines and the regulated distribution facilities of existing utility companies.
  • Distribution: The function of delivering power to retail customers after it reaches the city gates by way of the transmission grid.
  • Energy:  This is broadly defined as the capability of doing work.  In the electric power industry, energy is more narrowly defined as electric power supplied over time, typically expressed in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or megawatt-hours (MWh).
  • Generation or Production: The actual creation of electricity at power plants or generating stations.
  • Generation Costs: Costs to produce electricity.
  • Grid: The system of transmission lines, regionally and locally, linking generating facilities to distribution systems.
  • Independent System Operator or Regional Transmission Operator: Regional, independent managers of transmission facilities formed to ensure safe, reliable and fair transfer of electricity from generators to distribution companies at a competitive price.
  • Investor-Owned Utility (IOU): A utility that is owned by shareholders who receive a dividend based on profits from electric sales.
  • Joint Action Agency: A not-for-profit organization of municipal utilities that band together to jointly own and operate generation and transmission facilities to gain economies of scale.
  • Kilowatt (kW):  One thousand watts
  • kWh: Kilowatt-hour - one thousand watt-hours; how consumption of electricity is measured.
  • Load: Amount of electricity needed at a given time.
  • Megawatt (MW):  One thousand kilowatts or one million watts
  • Megawatt-hour (MWh):  One thousand kilowatt-hours or one million watt-hours.
  • Municipal Utility: A utility that is owned and operated by a municipality.  Also called a Public Power utility.
  • North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC):  An organization that makes reliability rules and standards for the electric utility industry.
  • Obligation to Serve: Obligation by a utility to assure adequate supply of electricity for all customers into the future.
  • Peak Demand: The point at which demand for electricity reaches its highest level.
  • Peaking Capacity: Generating units, like combustion turbine plants, that are used when the demand for electricity is high.
  • Power Exchange: A market for electricity in competitive marketplaces.
  • Public Power: The term used for not-for-profit utilities that are owned and operated by a municipality, state or the federal government.
  • Regulated Monopoly: Utility with service territory protection. The system currently in place in the regulated electric utility industry in which one utility is designated to serve a defined service territory.
  • Regulation: Supervision over rates, terms and conditions of service, financing or service areas by a governmental agency.
  • Reliability: Steady, predictable and consistent electric service and prices.
  • Restructuring: Reconfiguring the market structure by eliminating the monopoly on some of the necessary functions of an electric company.
  • Retail Customer: A residential, commercial, industrial or other ultimate user of electricity.
  • Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (REMC): A member-owned utility funded through government or CFC loans or private funding to serve a rural area.
  • Service Territory: A designated area served by an individual utility under a regulated utility structure.
  • Substation:  A facility used for switching and/or changing or regulating the voltage of electric energy.  A substation may tie generating stations to transmission systems or transmission systems to distribution systems.
  • Transformer:  A device for changing the voltage of alternating current.  Step-up transformers increase voltage, for example, from a power plant to a transmission system.  Step-down transformers reduce voltage, for example, from a transmission system to a distribution system or from a distribution line to a retail customer’s premises.
  • Transmission: The system of lines that carries electricity from generators to distribution companies.
  • Vertically-Integrated Utility: A utility that provides all generation, transmission and distribution services to its customers.
  • Voltage:  A measure of the force which makes electrons move or provides potential for them to move.
  • Watt:  The electric unit of power or rate of doing work.  One horsepower is equivalent to approximately 750 watts.
  • Watt-hour:  One watt of power expended for one hour.
  • Wholesale Customer: An entity that purchases power for resale to others. 
11610 North College Avenue
Carmel, Indiana 46032
317-573-9955    317-575-3372 (fax)
1-800-826-IMPA    info@impa.com

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