Applied Science - Technology (4B)
Post Lab 

  • Exploring electrical power.
  • Investigating conservation of energy.


  • conservation
  • utility

Students learn about utility companies.


The United States is the leader in both its installed generating capacity and its electric energy production compared to most countries in the world. Private electric utilities are regulated by state commissions or city governments depending on the state. Various state laws control exactly how much profit a utility can make so electric power can be provided at a reasonable rate for all concerned. If electricity was expensive in this country, people would be more aware of the cost of keeping even a light bulb burning.

Electric generation is created by two major means: water and fuel consumption. Energy turns turbines which then convert the movement into electricity. Transfer of electricity can be accomplished through power lines. This country has an extensive network of power lines to bring electricity to even the most remote part.

The United States also has federal power production. The best known is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that is controlled by the Department of Energy (DOE). This is the largest single electric power system in the world. It develops the Tennessee River and its tributaries and generates and distributes electric power to the surrounding area. Another large project is the Bonneville Power Administration which control water on the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington. The Bureau of Land Reclamation and the Army Corp of Engineers have also been involved in developing cheap power for different regions of the country. Hoover Dam is a federal project that creates power from the Colorado River. Many dams around the country were developed for this very purpose.

  1. Instruct  students on how to  learn about their local utility. The electric bill usually contains information about the utility and students may want to write to them to find out more information. Discover how and by what methods the utility produces their energy.
  2. Students can conduct an Internet search on their local electrical company that supplies energy. For instance in New York, the utility would be called Con Edison and in California it is called Pacific Gas and Electric. There are new companies that have formed to increase competition for electricity.
  3. There are electrical wires all around. Students see them day in and day out, but many don't know their significance. Have students select a topic to research about electricity. For example the conservation of electricity or just background information on the source of the local energy. Electrical generation and methods of conserving this precious commodity should be a way of life for students, not something that is taken for granted.

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