Generation facilities, or power plants, are the first step in the electric distribution system. Power plants use fuel, such as oil or natural gas, to heat water into steam. The pressurized steam spins large turbines, which in turn spin electromagnets with heavy copper wire surrounding them. The electromagnets’ motion forces the electrons in the wire to jump between atoms, creating electricity that flows out to power our homes and businesses.
Solar power plants and wind farms are other types of generation facilities. At a solar plant, large arrays of photovoltaic panels convert sunlight into electricity. At wind farms, large groups of turbines spun by the force of the wind are used to generate electricity.