Online Learning: Learning Paths

Electric Industry Overview

Length: 4.5 hours
Subscription: 2 months - 12 months
Cost: $295 - $350
Prerequisites: None

Understanding today’s electricity business begins with a solid foundation in electric industry basics. This Electric Industry Overview course bundle presents a clear and easy-to-understand fundamental overview of this unique business. Whether new to the industry or a veteran who is looking for a deeper understanding of the electricity business, this learning path helps participants make sense of this dynamic industry. Note that three versions of this learning path are available: U.S.; Canadian/U.S.; and Global.

This learning path comprises the following modules:

  • Introduction
  • Electric Customers
  • The Electric Delivery System
  • Electric System Operations
  • Electric Regulation
  • Electricity Marketplace Overview
  • The Future of Electricity

Contact us at 866-765-5432 or e-mail for more information.

Need CPE credits for this learning path? Click here.

Following is a more detailed outline of content contained in the Electric Industry Overview online course.


  • Course objectives
  • Why electricity is unique and critical
  • Units

Electric Customers

  • The three key types of end-use customers (residential, commercial, industrial)
  • Wholesale customers (utilities, marketers)
  • Number of customers in each class
  • Usage patterns for each class
  • The importance of peak demand and overall system demand curves
  • Key residential, commercial, and industrial uses of electricity and the resulting demand curves
  • Aggregate demand, daily and seasonal load curves, annual and seasonal peak demand
  • What affects demand curves
  • Customer needs
  • Services available to satisfy customer needs (bundled utility service, unbundled utility distribution with competitive supply service, self-generation, alternate fuels, energy efficiency)
  • Typical utility rate structures (flat rate, time-of-use, demand charges, green power)
  • Average rates and electric prices by state and by customer type
  • Why rates vary by customer type

The Electric Delivery System

  • An overview of the electric delivery system
  • Electric circuits
  • The five steps involved in system planning
  • How supply planning is different in competitive markets
  • Transmission and distribution system planning
  • The various generation types and their characteristics (operational, financial, and environmental)
  • Generation costs (capital, variable, and levelized)
  • The effect of fuel and emission costs
  • Operational characteristics including location, start time, and ramp flexibility
  • How demand side management is used as an alternative to generation
  • The generation supply curve (how supply is matched to demand)
  • The electrical transmission system (description, costs, and characteristics)
  • The electrical distribution system (description, costs, and characteristics)
  • System reliability
  • The Smart Grid
  • Information technology

Electric System Operations

  • The four key physical characteristics of electrical systems
  • The functions of a system (control area) operator
  • Which organizations provide the system operator function including utilities, power agencies, and ISOs/RTOs
  • Regulation and oversight of reliability by NERC and FERC
  • How system operators run the system including demand forecasting, unit scheduling and dispatch, ramping units in real time, and monitoring
  • The concept of least cost dispatch subject to constraints
  • What ancillary services are and how they are scheduled and used in real time (frequency regulation, spinning reserve, non-spinning reserve, supplemental reserve, voltage support or VARs, black start)
  • Transmission scheduling and power flow models
  • How a system operator balances the system in real time
  • How cascading outages are avoided
  • System operators in a competitive market

Electric Regulation

  • What regulation is 
  • Why the electric industry is regulated including the goals of regulators
  • The traditional vertically integrated electric market structure
  • Market participants under the vertically integrated structure including various types of utilities, and non-utility generators and suppliers
  • Unbundling of the vertically integrated structure
  • The four market models (ranging from highly regulated to less regulated) plus a hybrid
  • Regions in the U.S. with competitive wholesale and retail markets
  • Five functions of regulation
  • Who the regulators are (federal, state, and local) and what areas of the industry they regulate
  • The federal and state regulatory compacts
  • Four examples of regulatory proceedings (rulemakings, rate cases, certificate cases, complaint cases) and how this process works
  • The cost-of-service ratemaking process, step by step
  • Incentive regulation and where this is used
  • Market-based ratemaking and where this is used
  • The ways in which regulation impacts utilities and other market participants

Electricity Marketplace Overview

  • The variety of market structures in the U.S. and how they evolved
  • Traditional market participants and their roles (IOUs, munis and PUDs, co-ops, federal power agencies, ESCOs, IPPs, and electric marketers)
  • Competitive market participants and their roles (merchant generators, ISOs and RTOs, electronic exchanges and clearinghouses, wholesale marketers and retail marketers, financial services companies, transmission companies, UDCs, load-serving entities, and ESCOs)
  • How participants make money (regulated and competitive)
  • Wholesale transactions and services (energy, capacity, ancillary services, transmission rights, financial risk management)
  • Retail transactions and services (energy, energy efficiency, DSM, power reliability, power quality, energy information)
  • How prices are set in regulated markets
  • How prices are set in competitive markets including locational marginal pricing
  • Supply and demand and why traditional economic rules don’t always apply to the electric business
  • Why electric prices can be volatile
  • Electric market risks and how they can be mitigated

The Future of Electricity

  • Load growth
  • Demand side management (DSM)
  • Electric vehicles and space heating
  • Climate change
  • Electric storage
  • Smart grids, microgrids, and distributed resources
  • Information technology
  • The future of regulation, technology, markets, and the workplace
  • The top 10 challenges
  • The energy company of tomorrow

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