Hydroelectric dams use water to power the province of British Columbia. Let’s get hands on and make a model turbine to see the power of falling water in action.
In British Columbia, most electricity is made inside hydroelectric dams using water. Inside a dam, falling water is used to turn a large wheel called a turbine. The turbine turns a giant magnet inside huge coils of wire in a generator. This is what produces the electricity.
The electricity has to be transported to where it’s useful (like to your home to power a computer). The electricity travels for many kilometres over high-voltage wires called transmission lines. These transmission lines are held in the sky away from the ground by tall wood or metal transmission towers.
When the electricity gets near a town or city, it goes into a substation. The substation reduces the voltage, divides the electricity and sends it in different paths over wires called distribution lines. These distribution lines take the electricity to your home and can be either above ground or underground.
Often you will see grey cylinders called transformers on power poles. These reduce the voltage on the distribution lines to an amount that can be safely used in buildings. You may also see metal boxes with warning signs where newer houses are built. These boxes are called padmounted transformers. They do the same things as the transformers on the poles, but are for underground distribution lines.
As the electricity enters your house or school, it passes through a meter. The meter measures the amount of electricity your household uses. The electricity flows through the meter, through wires in your house and ends in electrical outlets in the walls. To use the electricity, you plug the appliance or device into the outlet.