Electricity, which travels along transmission lines at high voltage, arrives at a substation and is transformed to a lower voltage. This low-voltage electricity then continues moving along power lines into your neighborhood until it reaches your home, school or business.
Power plants are often far away, so electricity is transported along transmission lines at a high voltage to deliver it more efficiently. High voltage is like high pressure in a water hose - pressure helps deliver greater quantities of electricity over long distances.
We can't use high-voltage electricity at home. Voltage is like pressure. High-voltage electricity has too much pressure to run our everyday things. It would be like trying to fill a glass of water with a fire hose!
The electricity we use each day is at a lower voltage. In your home, the voltage you plug into is only 120 volts. The high voltage of a transmission line is at 115,000 volts or more - that's about 1,000 times as strong!
The substation at Education Station includes monitoring and control equipment located in small sheds along the back wall. This equipment measures and checks the electric current. Careful monitoring at this substation provides a safe connection to all other areas of the power grid network.
Circuit breakers can break the flow of electricity through a power line. They are important for protecting workers and equipment during an emergency.
Each circuit breaker includes three tanks. Inside each tank, two contact points are ready to separate and break the current if there is an unexpected power surge, like from a lightning strike. This turns power off and protects people and equipment from harm.
A switch controls an electric circuit and, like a light switch in a room, turns power off and on.
Technicians can open and close switches to break the flow of electricity in a line. Switches can be used in pairs to turn power off to the equipment between them. This lets technicians work safely in that area of the substation.
At Education Station, Westar Energy's transformer converts electricity from 115,000 volts (115 kV) to 12,470 volts (12 kV).
Two coils wrap around an iron core to produce a magnetic field. This helps transfer the electric current from one coil to the other to reduce the voltage and increase the current. This process produces a lot of heat, so the equipment is cooled by oil and cooling fans.
Lower voltage electricity exits the Education Station transformers at 12,470 volts and travels to the distribution lines, which send power to neighborhoods all over Topeka.
Voltage equals pressure, like the pressure of water in a hose. The more pressure in an electric line, the farther the electricity can flow.
Kanza Education and Science Park
I-70 & MacVicar Ave.
Topeka, KS 66606
The Education Station is open to the public 365 days a year. School field trips are always welcome.
Contact Larry Robbins with USD 501 at 785-295-3063 or by email.