| Electric power supplied to homes and businesses is typically AC (alternating current). The electrons do not travel along the power lines overhead but vibrate back and forth at 60 times per second within these lines. The AC outlet in your home delivers energy not electrons. When you plug in an appliance, the outlet supplies the power to move electrons that are already in the wiring of the appliance, around a closed circuit to produce a current.
The energy is supplied to your home as a voltage through a large and very complex power distribution network. After electric power is generated within a power station, it is sent through a network of power lines to consumers. This is done in several steps. |
Each time the voltage is stepped down, a transformer is used. Transformers are devices that work only with alternating current flows to either step up or step down voltages. They begin to behave badly when direct currents (DC) are superimposed on the normal AC currents that are handled routinely in the power grid. This is the main reason that power grids can be compromised by space weather events.