Where does my state’s electricity come from?

Electricity is such a common part of everything we do that it’s become a necessity. When people imagine providing themselves with their basics needs without power, it feels like a thought exercise in primitive living. Your warmth would come from burning logs and light in the evening would involve the long process of walking about the room and lighting candles or torches. Even keeping your food cold would be practically impossible.

But with every house in every neighborhood taking the miracle of power for granted, you may be wondering where all that energy comes from. Well, there are basically three ways your state gets its power. We’ll break it down into three categories: fossil fuels, clean motion, and solar.

Fossil fuels

You’ve probably heard this term used when talking about energy since childhood. Fossil fuels make up most of the production of electricity since nearly the beginning of its use. Most power is produced by converting motion into electricity, and fossil fuels start first with fire. Companies burn coal or oil to heat up water, which builds up pressure in turbines and caused them to turn. These turbines have alternating coils of metal in them which create a type of magnetic push or pull as they spin. This spin and friction between the metal generates electricity (kinda like rubbing your socks on the carpet). That energy is sent to the grid, which provides power to most people’s homes. The only problem is that it’s both inefficient and unhealthy. One of the major problems is that fossil fuels are finite, so we’re going to run out eventually. Beyond that, burning fossil fuels fill our air with pollutants which are not only a major contributor to climate change but increase the chances of birth defects and cancer. So, the technology is impressive, but the cost is unacceptable.

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Clean motion

Luckily, there are plenty of reliable and clean alternatives to get those turbines moving. Geothermal follows almost exactly the same process as fossil fuels, except that it uses natural heat rising from inside the earth’s crust, avoiding all that messy business with pollutants. Then there is wind and hydroelectric power. You may have seen giant space-age looking windmills on a road trip or crossed over a dam (there’s a nice one on the border of Arizona and Nevada). Well, when those windmills are spinning or the water is flowing, there are hidden turbines turning as well. These are clean and simple methods of creating motion, which is then converted into electricity through the process we mentioned earlier. This means we get all that power in a fairly reliable way, without any of the risks of pollutants, simply by using the natural resources around us.


Solar energy is another clean and renewable energy source, but you might be wondering why it gets its own category. It’s because it’s the only one that doesn’t use motion to generate electricity. Solar energy systems forgo the middle steps of translating motion into power and instead turn light in electricity. Solar cells use conductive material and inverters to capture sunlight, or even light from a flashlight, to create an electron flow. The process is pretty fascinating and would take more time than we have space to explain on this blog. But it works, it’s renewable, and it’s clean. The best part is that most homeowners can get their own solar energy system and start producing power on their roof.

Every state uses a mix of these methods to produce electricity for its residents. To find out specifically what your state does, you’ll have to do a little research. Try calling your local utility to learn more. Hopefully, your one of the lucky ones that are benefiting from clean and safe power. If not, then it’s time to make a change.

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