Common Terms


A blink is a momentary outage.


An overhead line on poles or underground cable that carries power from substation to customers. Circuit and distribution lines are terms used interchangeably.

Circuit Breaker

An electrical device which interrupts the current flow to a circuit when it exceeds a predetermined value. A circuit breaker is used to de-energize a circuit and can be set or programmed with various protection schemes to minimize damage to lines and equipment. Circuit breakers are designed to be re-closed after a current interruption.


The delivery of electricity from a substation to a home or business. Local Distribution Companies are responsible for maintaining these lines and equipment, as well as delivering the energy to consumers.

Distribution Line

A distribution line is a medium- voltage (2,001 volts to 46,000 volts) overhead line that carries power from the substation to customer service areas. Some distribution lines are underground cables.

Electric Cooperative

Independent, locally owned business enterprise incorporated under the laws of the state in which it operates. Consumers who receive service are member-owners of the cooperative and share responsibility for its success or failure along with the benefits they receive.


An electrical device that interrupts the current flow to a circuit when it exceeds a predetermined value. A fuse is used to de-energize a circuit to minimize damage to lines and equipment. Fuses can interrupt current only one time and must be replaced in order to energize the circuit it protects.


One of the three components involved in making energy available for the end user. The state in which energy is produced. Electric generation occurs at a power plant fueled by various sources.

Green Power

Electricity produced by environmentally friendly sources like wind, solar and other renewable fuels.


An insulator is a device made of special material that supports and separates energized lines and equipment from non-energized parts to prevent unwanted current flow. Insulators support overhead lines or cables on utility poles. An insulator may also support energized conductors and equipment in cabinets and inside substations.


The amount of electricity equal to 1,000 watts.


A unit of work or energy equal to that expended by one kilowatt in one hour.


The amount of electricity equal to one million watts.


A device that plugs into a meter socket to measure the consumption of energy by the customer in kilowatt-hours.

Power Plant

A facility, which converts fuel such as gas, coal, oil, nuclear or wind into electricity.

Service Line

A service line is a lower-voltage (up to 2000 volts) overhead conductor that carries power from the step-down transformer on the distribution line to a small-industrial, commercial or residential customer. This overhead conductor is the last connection from the utility to the meter on the customer's premises. A service line could be an underground cable.

State Corporation Commission (SCC)

Virginia state government entity that oversees the state's utilities.


A power distribution center that steps down transmission voltages (46,001 volts to 750,000 volts) to a primary distribution voltage (2,001 volts to 46,000 volts) with power transformers. Most circuits (distribution lines) radiate from this center toward customers.


The source from where REC's electricity is obtained.

Tap Line

A power line that carries electric service from distribution lines to individual homes.


A device that steps voltage down from a higher voltage or up to a higher voltage depending on use (i.e. steps the voltage down from a primary distribution voltage of 7200 volts to 120/240 volts for residential use).

Transmission Line

A transmission line is a bare, uninsulated high-voltage (46,001 volts to 750,000 volts) overhead line that carries power from power plants to substations or power distribution centers. Some transmission lines are underground cables.


The basic unit for measuring energy or power in the utility industry.