Utility Interconnection
Electrical Distribution

Electric Utility Distribution Equipment

Tim Taylor • Last updated 05/2023

4.7/5 (view ratings)
392 students
8 modules
3:10 hours
30 assignments

Course description

Understand what different distribution equipment does, how to recognize it, and how utility distribution systems work

This course is approved for IEEE 0.5 CEUs/ 5 PDHs.

For anyone working with utility distribution systems or Distributed Energy Resources (DER), including Solar PV, that interconnect to them, a working knowledge of distribution equipment is essential to complete job tasks, converse with others, and advance one's career.

If you are new to a job with a distribution utility, municipal, or co-operative, or work with a Solar PV organization such as a developer, design/engineering, or community solar provider that works with Solar PV farms connected to utility distribution, this course provides a solid background in utility distribution equipment.

This course is heavy on visuals and makes the material easy to understand, through:
* Photos
* Diagrams
* Videos

28 different types of the most common distribution equipment are discussed, including:
* Transformers
* Conductors
* Reclosers
* Voltage regulators
* Fuses
*And more.

To give context to the distribution discussions, an overview of the following is provided:
* Generation
* Transmission
* Substations

The course goes through the process of laying out a distribution feeder, from the substation down to residential meters on some streets in a small town.

The course provides an introduction to basic distribution concepts, such as:
* Three-phase and single-phase lines
* Voltage regulation
* Short-circuits and protection
* Feeder switching

You will also learn common distribution terms/nomenclature, and the typical values of voltage, current, and power throughout a distribution system.

This is an introductory level course - students are not required to have any prior utility power system knowledge, and no math is required.

The course requires approximately four hours to complete, and assignments include videos, lectures and quizzes to reinforce comprehension.

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Continuing Education Units

Approved for: 0.5 IEEE CEUs.

Full course outline

Module 1 - A Virtual Tour of Electrical Distribution Equipment

  • Two-Minute Overview of Course (02:16 minutes) Preview
  • Set up email notifications and your student profile
  • Introduce yourself on the discussion board
  • Introduction - Learning Objectives and Assignments (04:42 minutes)
  • Course Presentation Materials (.pdf)
  • Distribution Feeder Diagram (.pdf)
  • Safety Tips - Downed Power Lines
Module 2 - Generation Transmission Overview

  • Generation Transmission (23:44 minutes)
  • Transmission Switching
  • Generation Transmission
Module 3 - Basic Distribution System Concepts

  • Basic Distribution System Concepts (25:35 minutes)
  • Short-Circuit Faults on Distribution
Module 4 - Substation and Basic Equipment

  • Substation and Basic Equipment (34:48 minutes)
  • Distribution Concepts and Substations
Module 5 - Feeder Main / Backbone

  • Feeder Main / Backbone (35:34 minutes)
  • Three Phase Equipment
Module 6 - Underground Equipment

  • Underground Equipment (15:33 minutes) Preview
  • Replacing a Pad Mounted Residential Transformer
  • Underground Equipment
Module 7 - Single-Phase Overhead and Secondary Service Equipment

  • Single-Phase Overhead and Secondary Service Equipment (17:33 minutes)
  • Changing a Line Fuse
  • Distribution Systems Review - A Different Perspective
  • Single Phase Overhead and Service Entrance
Module 8 - Overview of Distributed Energy Resources on Distribution Systems

  • Watch: Distributed Energy Resources on Distribution Systems (30:15 minutes)
  • Distributed Energy Resources on Distribution Feeders (.pdf)


Tim Taylor

Owner and Managing Director, Electric Distribution Academy

Tim is Owner and Managing Director of Electric Distribution Academy and has over 30 years of experience in distribution system engineering. He’s led and participated in many projects with many North American utilities and has also worked in Europe and Latin American. In addition to papers, articles, and conference presentations, he has served as an instructor for... Learn more


74 reviews

392 students have taken this course

by Denise Murillo 11/16/2022

I highly recommend this course to anyone looking to get into the renewable energy industry. The course provides an overall understanding of our existing US utility grid.

by Kelly L 03/15/2021

by David Placek 03/02/2021

A very well done introduction to utility distribution equipment. I am encouraged to take additional Heatspring courses.

by Olja Ivanovic 07/31/2020

Great course.

by Tim Ohno, advisor, Colorado School of Mines 07/23/2020

This is a quick and easy course that provides a lot of useful visual information. Good stepping stone to understand the current grid.

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Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?

You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 8 module course is delivered entirely online. The lecture video and other materials are available any time. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.

How long do I have access to the materials?

Students get unlimited access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after enrollment. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world. After the one year of access expires, access can be extended by joining as a HeatSpring member. A single membership extends access to course materials for all past enrollments.

Is there a certificate of completion?

Yes, when you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.

Can I register multiple people?

Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Teams page to get a group discount.

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