Electrical Terms

N O P Q R S T U V W X  

A Access Charge – A fee imposed on seller to gain access to a utility’s transmission
or distribution lines necessary to deliver power to a point of exchange
or use.
ALEC – The American Legislative Exchange Council is a national association
of state legislators, who develop and promote free market policies. One
of ALEC’s primary purposes is the development of model legislation to
be used by its legislator members in the states.
* Alpha Particle – A positively charged particle ejected spontaneously from the nuclei of some radioactive elements. It has low-penetrating power and short range in air. The most energetic alpha particle will generally fail to penetrate the skin. Alphas are hazardous when an alpha-emitting isotope is introduced into the body.
American Public Power Association (APPA) – A national service organization
representing 2000 municipal and other state or local publicly owned electric
utilities throughout the United States. (APPA Website)
* Atom – The smallest particle of an element that cannot be divided or broken up by chemical means. It consists of a central core called a nucleus, which contains protons and neutrons. Electrons revolve in orbits in the region surrounding the nucleus.
Ancillary Services – Services provided by a utility and other suppliers
to a provider of generation which maintains the quality, safety loading,
accounting and planning necessary to move generation from one point to
Avoided Cost – The cost that a utility is expected to incur for its
customers in providing (generation) service to its customer. This is
the price paid by utilities to cogenerators in many states.

B * Background Radiation – Normal radiation present in the lower atmosphere from cosmic rays and from terrestrial sources. The usually quoted average individual exposure from background radiation is 350 millirem per year.
* Beta Particle – An electrically charged particle emitted from a nucleus during radioactive decay. A negatively charged beta particle is identical to an electron. A positively charged beta particle is called a positron. Large amounts of beta radiation may cause skin burns, and beta emitters are harmful if they enter the body. Beta particles are easily stopped by a thin sheet of metal or plastic.
Bilateral Contracts – A contractual system between a buyer and a seller
to obtain generation and/or ancillary services of a given type, duration,
timing and reliability over a contractual term.
Black-Out – Refers to a condition when all electrical power is disrupted
to your area.
* Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) – A nuclear reactor in which water is boiled in the core; the resulting steam drives a turbine to generate electricity.
Bottleneck Facility – A point on the system, such as a transmission
line, through which all electricity must pass to get to its intended
buyers. If there is limited capacity at this point, some priorities must
be developed to decide whose power gets through. It also must be decided
if the owner of the bottleneck may, or must, build additional facilities
to relieve the constraint.
BPA – Bonneville Power Administration. One of five federal power marketing
administrations that sell low-cost electric power produced by federal
hydro electric dams to agricultural and municipal users. BPA serves Idaho,
Oregon and Washington as well as parts of Nevada and Wyoming.
* Breeder Reactor – A nuclear reactor which produces more fuel than it consumes. The new fuel is created from non-fissile material by neutron bombardment from fission reaction.
Broker Systems – An electronic marketplace in which electric generation
is priced and purchased.
Brown-Out – Refers to a condition when the system voltage drops below
acceptable levels causing lights to dim and potentially causing other
electrical equipment to function improperly or to be damaged.
Bulk Power Supply – Often this term is used interchangeably with wholesale
power supply. In broader terms, it refers to the aggregate of electric
generating plants, transmission lines, and related equipment. The term
may refer to those facilities within one electric utility, or within
a group of utilities in which the transmission lines are interconnected.
Buy Through – An agreement between utility and customer to import power
when the customer’s service would otherwise be interrupted.
Buy Release – A secondary market for capacity that is contracted by
a customer not using all of its capacity.

C Captive Customer – A customer who does not have realistic alternatives
to buying power from the local utility, even if that customer had the
legal right to buy from competitors.
* Chain Reaction – A self-sustaining series of fissions in which additional fission is initiated by a neutron from previous fission. This process is the basis for the operation of all nuclear reactors.
Cogeneration (Cogen) – Generating electricity using a waste heat fuel
source (full or partial) which comes from another industrial process.
* Containment – The provision of a gastight shell or other enclosure around a nuclear reactor to confine fission products that otherwise might be released into the atmosphere in the event of an accident.
* Contamination – The depositing of unwanted radioactive materials on the surfaces of structures, objects, areas or personnel.
Contracts for Differences (CfD) – A type of bilateral contract where
the electric generator seller is paid a fixed amount over time which
is a combination of the short-term market price and an adjustment with
the purchaser for the difference. For example, a generator may sell a
distribution company power for ten years at 6 cents/kWh. That power is
bid into PoolCo at some low cent/kWh value (to ensure it is always taken).
The seller then gets the market clearing price from the pool and the
purchaser pays the producer the difference between the PoolCo selling
price and 6 cents/kWh (or vice versa if the pool price should go above
the contract price).
* Cooling Tower – A heat exchanger designed to aid in the cooling of water that was used to cool exhaust steam exiting the tubines of a power plant. Cooling towers transfer exhaust heat into the air instead of into a body of water.
Co-op – The commonly used term for a rural electric cooperative. Rural
electric cooperatives generate and/or purchase wholesale power, arrange
for the transmission of that power, and then distribute the power to
serve the demand of rural customers. Co-ops typically become involved
in ancillary services such as energy conservation, load management and
other demand-side management programs in order to serve their customers
at the least cost. (All Co-ops do not necessarily generate electricity.)
Cost Based Pricing – Electric service prices determined by adding the
costs associated with serving an individual customer (or the average
cost of serving a group of similar customers) to an allowed return on
Cost of Service Studies – Technical engineering/accounting studies that
allocate the total cost of providing electric service to groups of similar
customers, based on energy usage, peak use timing, character of service,
load factor, voltage, type of metering needed, etc.
* Curie – A measure of the rate of radioactive decay; it is equivalent to the radioactivity of one gram of radium or thirty-seven billion disintegrations per second. A nanocurie is one billionth of a curie; a picocurie is one trillionth of a curie.

D Decoupling – A regulatory process for determining the total revenue
needed to cover the costs of a utility in which the actual or projected
level of sales is disassociated (“decoupled”) from the revenues
derived. Conservationists advocate such a process to discourage utilities
from selling more energy to maintain adequate profit levels.
Demand Side Management (DSM) – 1. Refers to measures taken by a utility
to encourage conservation of electric usage or to reschedule electric
usage for more uniform usage throughout the day or year. Such efforts
are intended at minimizing the size and number of generating facilities
or designing strategic load growth. 2. Planning, implementation, and
evaluation of utility-sponsored programs to change the timing or reduce
the amount of a customer’s energy consumption.
Deregulation – The elimination of regulation from a previously regulated
industry or sector.
Direct Access – The ability of a retail customer to purchase commodity
electricity directly from the wholesale market rather than through a
local distribution utility. (See also Retail Competition.)
Disaggregation – The functional separation of the vertically integrated
utility into smaller, individually owned business units (i.e., generation,
dispatch/control, transmission, distribution). The terms “deintegration”, “disintegration” and “delamination” are
sometimes used to mean the same thing. (See also Divestiture.)
Distribution – The process of delivering electric power at lower voltages
from central substations to the point of end use.
Distribution Utility (Disco) – The regulated electric utility entity
that constructs and maintains the distribution wires connecting the transmission
grid to the final customer. The Disco can also perform other services
such as aggregating customers, purchasing power supply and transmission
services for customers, billing customers and reimbursing suppliers,
and offering other regulated or non-regulated energy services to retail
customers. The “wires” and “customer service” functions
provided by a distribution utility could be split so that two totally
separate entities are used to supply these two types of distribution
Divestiture – 1. Refers to the sale of a utility’s generation or transmission
assets. 2. The stripping off of one utility function from the others
by selling (spinning-off) or in some other way changing the ownership
of the asset related to that function–most commonly associated with
spinning-off generation assets so they are no longer owned by the shareholders
that own the transmission and distribution assets. (See also Disaggregation.)
* Dosimeter – A portable instrument for measuring and registering the total accumulated exposure to ionizing radiation.
* Drywell – The steel pressure vessel in the shape of a light bulb that houses the reactor vessel.

E Economic Efficiency – 1. Measures the amount of output obtained for
a given set of economic inputs. The most desirable economic efficiency
is that which produces a given level of output using the fewest economic
inputs. 2. A term that refers to the optimal production and consumption
of goods and services. This generally occurs when prices of products
and services reflect their marginal costs. Economic efficiency gains
can be achieved through cost reduction, but it is better to think of
the concept as actions that promote an increase in overall net value
(which includes, but is not limited to, cost reductions).
Economic Long Run – The time period over which the value of a given
set of economic inputs is recovered, which is often a function of both
the physical life of the asset and its economic usefulness.
Economic Short Run – Any period less than the economic long run. During
the economic short run, economists argue that price levels should cover
all variable costs and make some or no contribution to fixed costs, but
that full costs may not be recovered.
Economies of Scale – Economies of scale exist where the industry exhibits
decreasing average long-run costs with size.
EEI – Edison Electric Institute. An association of electric companies
formed in 1933 “to exchange information on industry developments
and to act as an advocate for utilities on subjects of national interest.”
ELCON – Electricity Consumers Resources Council. An association formed
in 1976 of large industrial consumers of electricity. They work cooperatively
for the development of coordinated and consistent policies affecting
electric energy supply and pricing at the federal, state and local levels.
ELCON members account for over five percent of all electricity consumed
in the United States.
Electric Technologies – Processes and uses of electric service which
increase productivity and decrease overall emissions. Examples of emerging
electric technologies are laser cutting, microwave medical waste disposal,
infrared paint drying processes, flash-bake cooking, etc.
* Electromagnetic Radiation – A traveling wave motion resulting from changing electric or magnetic fields. Familiar electromagnetic radiations range from X-rays (and gamma rays) of short wavelength, through the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared regions, to radar and radio waves of relatively long wavelength. All electromagnetic radiations travel in a vacuum with the velocity of light.
Embedded Costs Exceeding Market Prices (ECEMP) – Embedded costs of utility
investment exceeding market prices are: 1) costs incurred pursuant to
a regulatory or contractual obligation; 2) costs that are reflected in
cost-based rates; and 3) cost-based rates that exceed the price of alternatives
in the marketplace. ECEMPs may become “stranded costs” where
they exceed the amount that can be restored through the asset’s sale.
Regulatory questions involve whether such costs should be recovered by
utility shareholders and if so, how they should be recovered.
Environmental Externalities – Environmental costs associated with the
provision of a good or service which may or may not be incorporated in
the internal cost measurements of the provider. Such costs are sometimes
imputed theoretically to represent unmeasured costs to society associated
with the use of the good or service.
EPAct – The Energy Policy Act of 1992 addresses a wide variety of energy
issues. The legislation creates a new class of power generators, exempts
wholesale generators (EWGs), that are exempt from the provisions of the
Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935 and grants the authority
to FERC to order and condition access by eligible parties to the interconnected
transmission grid.
ESCO – Efficiency Service Company. A company that offers to reduce a
client’s electricity consumption with the cost savings being split with
the company.
Exempt Wholesale Generator (EWG) – Created under the 1992 Energy Act,
these wholesale generators are exempt from certain financial and legal
restrictions stipulated in the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of

F * Fallout – The slow descent of minute particles of radioactive debris in the atmosphere following a nuclear explosion.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – The Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission regulates the price, terms, and conditions of power sold in
interstate commerce and regulates the price, terms and conditions of
all transmission services. FERC is the federal counterpart to state utility
regulatory commissions.
FERC 888 – FERC 888 promotes wholesale competition through open access
and non-discriminatory transmission service by public utilities. Requirements
of FERC 888 include the identification of stranded costs by public utilities
and transmitting utilities for recovery, unbundling of costs, and separating
marketing functions from transmission operations.
FERC 889 – Requirements of FERC 889 include the creation of a nation-wide
information sharing system. Open Access Same-Time Information System
(OASIS) is a computer information system on the Internet created to allow
utilities/power marketers to make reservations on transmission systems
across the nation. This open access, information sharing site is scheduled
to be operational January 1, 1997.
Financial Risk – The risks associated with making an investment; the
probability of recovering that investment plus an appropriate return.
* Fission – The process whereby the nucleus of an atom splits into (generally) two nuclei of lighter elements, with the release of substantial amounts of energy and two or more neutrons. The most common fissionable materials are uranium-235, plutonium-239, and uranium-233.
Forwards – A forward is a commodity bought and sold for delivery at
some specific time in the future. It is differentiated from futures by
the fact that a forward contract is customized, non-exchange traded,
and a non-regulated hedging mechanism.
* Fuel Assembly – A cluster of fuel rods (or plates). Also called a fuel element. Many fuel assemblies make up a reactor core.
* Fuel Cycle – The series of steps involved in supplying fuel for nuclear power reactors. It can include mining, milling, isotopic enrichment, fabrication of fuel elements, use in a reactor, chemical reprocessing to recover the fissionable materials remaining in the spent fuel, reenrichment of the fuel materials, refabrication into new fuel elements, and waste disposal.
* Fuel Rod – A long slender tube that holds fissionable material (fuel) for nuclear reactor use. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel elements or assemblies, which are loaded individually into the reactor core.
* Fusion (Nuclear) – The formation of a heavier nucleus from two lighter ones with the attendant release of energy.
Futures Market – Arrangement through a contract for the delivery of
a commodity at a future time and at a price specified at the time of
purchase. The price is based on an auction or market basis. Standardized,
exchange-traded, and government regulated hedging mechanism.

G Generation Company (Genco) – A regulated or non-regulated entity (depending
upon the industry structure) that operates and maintains existing plants.
The Genco may own the generation plants or interact with the short term
market on behalf of plant owners. In the context of restructuring the
market for electricity, Genco is sometimes used to describe a specialized “marketer” for
the generating plants formerly owned by a vertically-integrated utility.
Grid – A system of interconnected power lines and generators that is
managed so that the generators are dispatched as needed to meet the requirements
of the customers connected to the grid at various points. Gridco is sometimes
used to identify an independent company responsible for the operation
of the grid.

H * Half-Life – The time required for a substance to lose one-half of its radioactivity. Half-life can vary from a fraction of a second to billions of years depending upon the substance.
Hedging Contracts – Contracts which establish future prices and quantities
of electricity independent of the short-term market. Derivatives may
be used for this purpose. (See also contracts for differences, forwards,
futures, and options).

I Independent Power Producer (IPP) – An entity which owns facilities to
generate electric power for sale to utilities and end users.
Independent System Operator (ISO) – An independent management team set
up to run transmission systems owned by two or more entities. Under the
arrangement, owners retain title to their assets and the ISO runs the
systems as a joint operation. The ISO files a single transmission tariff
for the region, plans and schedules transmission outages, takes a lead
role in transmission system planning, collects transmission charges and
makes payments to the actual providers.
Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) – A process to control electric power
planning through both demand-side management (to reduce the need or demand
for electricity) and supply side management (to redistribute the types
of needed electric generation among fuel types, location, etc.) to accomplish
specified social and environmental goals.
Integrated Resource Planning Principles – The underlying principles
of IRP can be distinguished from the formal process of developing an
approved utility resource plan for utility investments in supply-side
and demand-side and transmission resource costs and attributes outside
of the basic provision (or reduction) for electric capacity and energy.
These resources may be owned or constructed by any entity and may be
acquired through contracts as well as through direct investments. Another
principle is the incorporation of risk and uncertainty into the planning
analysis. The public participation aspects for IRP allow public and regulatory
involvement in the planning rather that the siting stage of project development.
Investor Owned Utility (IOU) – A utility operated by a public corporation
in which ownership shares are held by individual investors who supply
the capital in expectation of earnings on their investments.
* Ionization – Removal of electrons from an atom, for example, by means of radiation, so that the atom becomes charged.
* Isotope – One of two or more atoms with the same number of protons, but different number of neutrons in their nuclei. Isotypes have very nearly the same chemical properties, but often different physical properties.

K KiloVolt (kV) – A KiloVolt is 1000 Volts.
Kilowatt (KW) – A watt is a unit of power in the International System
of Units (SI) that is required to do work at the rate of 1 joule per
second. Kilo is from the metric system and means 1000. Therefore, a kilowatt
is power required to do work at the rate of 1000 joules per second.
Kilowatt-hour (KWhr) – A Kilowatt-hour is the total number of kilowatts
used in one hour, or 3,600,000 joules.
KVA – KVA refers to kilovolt-ampere and is the unit used to express
apparent power. This unit of measure for power consumption is used for
equipment that is not resistive such as motors, computers, and most non-incandescent

L Load – The electric power used by devices connected to an electrical
generating system.
Load Following – 1. The obligation of the wheeling utility to provide
from its own generating sources any difference between the amount of
power being wheeled and the instantaneous requirement of the customer
receiving, or the supplier delivering the wheeled power. 2. Load following
falls into two categories: (a) dedicating sufficient generating capacity
to the automatic generator control (AGC) mode to allow them to follow
load, and (b) monitoring mismatches between intended and actual interchanges
between control areas, and transmitting control signals to AGC generators
to minimize this mismatch. Both require a system to record mismatches
(over-runs and under-runs).Load following is important because it helps maintain system frequency.
Otherwise, if demand exceeded supply, generators would slow down; and
if supply exceeded demand, generators would speed up. Both situations
could result in an unstable situation which could lead to a widespread

M Mid-continent Area Power Pool (MAPP) – – MAPP is a voluntary organization
of electric utilities committed to providing reliable and economical
electric service to their customers. MAPP is one of nine Reliability
Councils under the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC).
It is also a power pool where members engage in sales and purchases of
Marginal Cost – In the utility context, the cost to the utility of providing
the next (marginal) kilowatt-hour of electricity, irrespective of sunk
Market-Based Pricing – Electric service prices determined in an open
market of supply on demand under which the price is set solely by agreement
as to what a buyer will pay and a seller will accept. Such prices could
recover less or more than the full cost, depending upon what the buyer
and seller see as their relevant opportunities and risks.
Marketer – An agent for generation projects who markets power on behalf
of the generator. The marketer may also arrange transmission, firming
or other ancillary services as needed. Though a marketer may perform
many of the same functions as a broker, the difference is that a marketer
represents the generator while a broker acts as a middleman. (See also
Power Marketers.)
Municipal Utility (Muni) – A provider of utility services owned and
operated by a municipal government.
Municipalization – The process by which a municipal entity assumes responsibility
for supplying utility service to its constituents. In supplying electricity,
the municipality may generate and distribute the power or purchase wholesale
power from other generators and distribute it.

N NARUC – The National Association for Regulatory Utility
Commissioners. An advisory council composed of governmental agencies
of the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin
Islands engaged in the regulation of utilities and carriers. The chief
objective is to serve the consumer interest by seeking to improve the
quality and effectiveness of public regulations in America.
The National Association of Utility Consumer Advocates. NASUCA includes
members from 38 states and the District of Columbia. It was formed
to exchange information and take positions on issues affecting utility
rates before federal judges, Congress and the courts.
The National Conference of State Legislatures. A national advisory
council which provides services to state legislatures by bringing together
information from all States to forge workable answers to complex policy
* Neutron – An uncharged particle in a nucleus. Neutrons are used to split heavy atoms in a fission reaction.
* Neutron Activation – Making a material radioactive by bombarding it with neutral particles (neutrons).
The Northern American Electric Reliability Council. An association
for regional councils which provides coordination and planning.
Generators (NUGs)
– Facilities for generating electricity
that are not owned exclusively by an electric utility (less that
50%) and which operate connected to an electric utility system.
Included are qualifying cogeneration and independent power productions
facilities under Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA)
for 1978 (referred to as qualifying facilities, Qfs), facilities
installed under the competitive bidding process, and other independent
power producers (IPPs) that operate connected to the electric
utility system.
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. A designation used by the
FERC for some of its dockets.
Northeast Power Coordinating Council. A regional reliability
coordinating council comprising the New England Power Pool,
the New York Power Pool and the utilities of eastern Canada.
Northwest Regional Transmission Association. A sub-regional
transmission group within the Western Regional Transmission Association.
* Nuclear Chain Reaction – A self-sustaining series of nuclear fissions taking place in a reactor core. Neutrons produced in one fission cause the next fission.
* Nuclear Reactor – An apparatus in which the nuclear fission chain reaction may be initiated, maintained and controlled, so that the accompanying energy is released at a specified rate. It includes fissionable materials (contained in fuel) such as uranium or plutonium, fertile materials, moderating material (unless it is a fast reactor), a heavy-walled pressure vessel, shielding to protect personnel, provision for heat removal, control elements and instrumentation.

O Open Access Same-Time Information System (OASIS)
OASIS is a real-time information-sharing system that enables all buyers
and sellers of electricity to access the transmission costs for all other
buyers and sellers. This system is designed to ensure that transmission
owners and their affiliates do not have an unfair advantage in using
transmission to sell power. All utilities must use the OASIS on the Internet.
to Serve
– The concept embodied in the statutes of most States
governing the retail or end-use provision of electric service in which
a utility is required to serve all customers who request service at
non-discriminatory prices. This obligation is rendered in return for
the granting of exclusive rights to serve a geographic area at retail.
Generally refers to designated periods of relatively low system demand.
NERC has defined these periods as 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., Monday through
Saturday and all day Sunday.
Off-Peak Rate – Generally
refers to the cost for power used during Off-Peak periods.
– 1. A term becoming generally applied to the
evolving access to the transmission system for all generators
and wholesale customers. (See FERC NOPR of March 1995.) 2. The
use of utility’s transmission and distribution facilities on
a common-carrier basis at cost-based rates.
An option is a contractual agreement that gives the holder
the right to buy (call option) or sell (put option) a fixed quantity
of a security or commodity (for example, a commodity or commodity
futures contract), at a fixed price, within a specified period
of time. May either be standardized, exchange-traded and government
regulated or over-the-counter, customized and non-regulated.

P * Particle Accelerator – Any devise, such as an electrostatic generator, cyclotron or linear accelerator that speeds up electrically charged subatomic particles (electrons and protons) or nuclei to energies useful for research. Also called an “atom smasher,” it allows scientists to study the particles and forces that make up atoms.
Peak – The maximum load consumed or produced by a
unit or group of units in a stated period of time.
Peak Load
or Peak Demand
– The electric load that corresponds to a maximum
level of electric demand in a specified time period.
Rate Making
– A process by which a utility’s rates are set
in such a way as to encourage certain behaviors considered to be in the
public interest, as opposed to setting rates based on cost plus an allowed
return on investment.
PoolCo – 1. An entity in which
the generating assets of all members are “pooled” and the participants
obtain pooled average prices for power to meet their system needs. 2.
PoolCo refers to a specialized, centrally dispatched spot market power
pool that functions as a short-term market. It establishes the short-term
market clearing price and provides a system of long-term transmission
compensation contracts. It is regulated to provide open access, comparable
service and cost recovery. A PoolCo would make ancillary generation services,
including load following, spinning reserve, backup power, and reactive
power, available to all market participants on comparable terms. In addition,
the PoolCo provides settlement mechanisms when differences in contracted
volumes exist between buyers and sellers of energy and capacity.
– Sales agents for electric power, typically not
a part of a utility. Such entities contract with sellers and buyers
as the middleman. Unlike brokers, power marketers take title to all
power they transact. (See also Marketers.)
Pricing Parity
Under regulated pricing, the process of setting the price to collect
revenues from a given group or category of customers to equal the
cost to serve the customer, including and allowed return on investment.
By contrast, an absence of parity would indicate that the prices
for one class of customers were less than the full cost and prices for
another class of customers were more than the full cost, even though
total prices for all classes together may equal the total cost for
all classes.
Transparency and Liquidity
– In a fully functioning competitive
market, price transparency would reflect an indifference to the
identity of buyer and seller because the price would be entirely
available to all buyers and sellers.
Project Financing
An arrangement when a lender provides the needed capital to build
a facility and the security for the lien is the value of the
project itself, rather than the security being the full faith and credit
of the owner of the project.
The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, passed
by the U.S. Congress. This statute requires States to consider the
implementation of Utility Conservation Programs and create
markets for cogenerators and small power producers who meet certain efficiency
standards, including the requirement that States set the price
of power the utilities must buy from such facilities based
on avoided costs.
The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. This act
prohibits acquisition of any wholesale or retail electric business through
a holding company unless that business forms part of an integrated
public utility system when combined with the utility’s other
electric business. The legislation also restricts ownership
of an electric business by non-utility corporations.

Q Qualifying Facility (QF) – Under PURPA, Qfs were allowed
to sell their electric output to the local utility at avoided cost rates.
To become a QF, the independent power supplier had to produce electricity
with a specified fuel type (cogeneration or renewables), and meet certain
ownership, size and efficiency criteria established by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission.

R * Radiation, Nuclear – Particles (alpha, beta, neutrons) or photons (gamma) emitted from the nucleus of an unstable (radioactive) atom as a result of radioactive decay.
* Radioactivity – A property possessed by some elements that spontaneously gives off energy in the form of waves or particles.
Reliability – The degree to which electric power is
made available to those who need it in sufficient quantity and quality
to be dependable and safe. The degree of reliability may be measured
by the frequency, duration, and magnitude of adverse effects on consumer
Reserve Margin – The amount of installed
generation which exceeds the operating generation capacity needed to
meet the expected peak load of a given utility with a defined statistical
probability. Standards vary from utility to utility, but most utility
planners consider a 15-20 percent reserve margin essential for good
The changes being considered in the set of regulatory and statutory
policies governing electric utilities in the U.S.
Retail Competition
The concept under which multiple sellers of electric power and
services can sell directly to end-use customers. (See also Direct Access.)
– A market in which electricity and other energy
services are sold directly to the end-use customer.
Retail Wheeling
The process of moving electric power from a point of generation
across one or more utility-owned transmission and distribution
systems to a retail customer. (See also Direct Access.)
* Roentgen {r} – A unit of exposure to ionizing radiation. It is that of amount of gamma or X-rays required to produce icons carrying 1 electrostatic unit of electrical charge in 1 cubic centimeter of dry air under standard conditions. Named after Willhelm Roentgen, a German scientist who discovered X-rays in 1895.
A Regional Transmission Group. A voluntary organization of
transmission owners, users and other entities interested
in coordinating transmission planning, expansion, operation and
use on a regional and inter-regional basis.
Rural Electric Cooperative Utility
An electric utility set up under the Rural Electrification
Act of 1934 and owned by the customers of the utility itself.
The original purpose of the Act was to provide electric
power availability to rural customers who may not have received
service because they were more costly to serve than the
concentrated customers locally. (See also Co-op.)

S Service Area Exclusivity – The concept embodied in
the statutes of most States under which a utility is granted the right
to be the exclusive provider of electric service in a given geographic
area in return for the utility’s obligation to serve all customers with
reliable service at fair and non-discriminatory rates.
– 1. The difference between the capability and actual
output of generating units which are operating and connected to the
electrical network. 2. The amount of unloaded generating capability,
on units that are in the generating mode and connected to the interconnected
system, which can be fully applied in 10 minutes.
Standby (Backup) Service
1. Service through a permanent connection not normally used but available
in lieu of, or as a supplement to, the usual source of supply. 2.
Generating and power quality assurance services provided by a supplier
to customers who rely on service or equipment which may not be as available
or reliable as needs dictate. Typically, standby or backup service is
sold by a utility to another utility or generator, such as an industrial
cogenerator, to assure continuation of service during maintenance and
emergency outage.
– Benefits associated with regulated retail
electric service which may be at risk under open market retail
competition. Examples are conservation programs, fuel diversity,
reliability of supply, and tax revenues based on utility reserves.
Stranded Costs/Stranded
– Costs incurred by a utility which may not
be recoverable under market-based retail competition. Examples
are undepreciated generating facilities, deferred costs, and
long-term contract costs.
Activities conducted on the utility’s side of the customer
meter. Activities designed to supply electric power to customers, rather
than meeting load through energy efficiency measures or on-site
generation on the customer-side of the meter.
The Southwest Regional Transmission Association. A subregional
Regional Transmission Authority (RTG) within the Western
Regional Tranmission Authority (WRTA), and awaiting FERC approval.

T Tariff – A document, approved by the responsible regulatory
agency, listing the terms and conditions, including a schedule of prices,
under which utility services will be provided.
Time-of-Use (TOU)
– The pricing of electricity based on the estimated
cost of electricity during a particular time block. Time-of-Use rates
are usually divided into three or four time blocks per twenty-four
hour period (on-peak, mid-peak, off-peak and, sometimes, super off-peak)
and by seasons of the year (summer and winter). Real-time pricing differs
from TOU rates in that it is based on actual (as opposed to forecasted)
prices which fluctuate many times a day and are weather-sensitive,
rather than varying with a fixed schedule.
Transition Costs
See Embedded Costs Exceeding Market Prices.

U Unbundling – The separating of the total process of
electric power service from generation to metering into its component
parts for the purpose of separate pricing or service offerings.

V Vertical Integration – An arrangement whereby the
same company owns all the different aspects of making, selling and delivering
a product or service. In the electric industry, it refers to the historically
common arrangement whereby a utility would own its own generating plants,
transmission system and distribution lines to provide all aspects of
electric service.
Volt – The potential difference between
two points.

W Western Area Power Administration
WAPA markets and transmits reliable, low-cost
electric power, provides related services and encourages energy efficient
management in an environmentally sound manner to a service area covering
3.38 million square kilometers (1.3 million square miles). Western’s
wholesale power customers provide service to millions of consumers
in 15 western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas,
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South
Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming).
Wheeling – The
transmission of electricity by an entity that does not own or directly
use the power it is transmitting. Wholesale wheeling is used to
indicate bulk transactions in the wholesale market, whereas retail wheeling
allows power producers direct access to retail customers. This
term is often used colloquially as meaning transmission.
The Western Association for Transmission System Coordination.
– Rivalry between utilities and other
electricity generators striving for the same market of bulk
power for resale.
– The process of moving bulk power from
a generator across one or more utility-owned transmission
system to another utility for resale.
The Western States’ System Coordinating Council. A voluntary
industry association created to enhance reliability among
western utilities.
The Western Systems Power Pool. A FERC-approved industry
institution that provides a forum for short-term trades
in electric energy, capacity, exchanges and transmission
services. The pool consists of approximately 50 members
and serves 22 states, a Canadian province and 60 million
people. The WSSP is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.

X * X-Ray – A photograph taken with x-rays which are relatively high-energy photon with wavelength in the appropriate range from 0.05 angstrom to 100 angstroms. Used to diagnose ailments, injuries and tooth decay. Radioisotopes (radioactive tracer elements) are injected into patients to detect glandular and organ malfunctions, cancerous growths and other biological problems. Other examples of radiation sources are color TV sets, industrial materials, bomb test fallout, the mining of uranium for nuclear fuel and incidental releases from nuclear plant operations. All of these “unnatural” sources combined account for approximately 20 percent of the total average human exposure.


* Requirement for Boy Scout badge.