Expand your base of the fundamentals of utility distribution systems and equipment

Summary: In this professional development course, grow your knowledge of the fundamentals of utility distribution systems and equipment with Tim Taylor of Electric Distribution Academy. The course is designed as a six-week course for working professionals, but can be completed at your own pace. It is designed for those that do not have any engineering background, and links to reference material are provided for those requiring basic electric power concepts. This course explores the following topics:

  • Serving Loads and Connecting Distributed Energy Resources
  • Transmitting and Transforming Electric Power
  • Distribution System Architectures
  • Voltage Monitoring and Control
  • Overcurrent Protection
  • Distribution Reliability

Intended Audience: Those who work with utility distribution systems and applications and need an understanding of the concepts behind utility distribution systems, including:

  • Utilities, municipalities, and co-operatives
  • Solar developers
  • Equipment and software vendors
  • Consultants

Prerequisites: The free course “Overview of Electric Distribution Systems” is recommended.

PRICE: $595

Go to the Course Site at HeatSpring.com to take course:

Module 1 – Serving Loads and Connecting Distributed Energy Resources

Basic drivers of distribution system design and operation:

  • Serve loads with adequate voltage and frequency
  • Meet reliability, resiliency, and power quality goals
  • Provide a platform for connecting Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
  • Be designed and operated with a primary emphasis on safety
  • Meet environmental and aesthetics goals
  • Be designed with the lowest total owning cost

Distribution System Loads

  • Impacts of customer loads on system design and operation
  • Resistive, inductive, and capacitive components of load
  • Demand, energy, and power factor
  • Demand factor and coincidence factor
  • Different types of utility customers
  • Customer load profiles
  • Customer classes and class load profiles

Distributed Energy Resources

  • Common types of DER on utility systems
  • Utility challenges with DER on distribution

Module 2 – Transmitting and Transforming Electric Power

Overhead Lines and Cables

  • Overhead line construction types
  • Common distribution conductor materials
  • Considerations in overhead conductor selection
  • Principal overhead conductor characteristics
  • Underground cable applications
  • Cable insulation types
  • Application considerations of distribution cables
  • Overhead vs underground distribution


  • Function of transformers
  • Application of transformers in power systems
  • Substation transformers
  • Three-phase and single-phase distribution transformers
  • Wye and delta configuration of three-phase transformers

Module 3 – Distribution System Architectures

  • Distribution substations, feeders, nominal voltage levels, three-phase and single-phase circuits, typical circuit loadings
  • Primary feeder architectures, including radial, radial with ties, looped
  • Secondary systems – Secondary voltage levels for residential and commercial, distributed secondary networks
  • Impacts of overhead and underground on architectures
  • Dual feeds with transfer switches

Module 4 – Voltage Monitoring and Control

  • Reactive power, voltage control, and real power losses
  • Reactive power requirements and sources
  • Distribution voltage standards, voltage drop and causes, real power loss causes
  • Load tap changers, voltage regulators, fixed and switched shunt capacitors
  • Impacts of DER, particularly solar PV, on voltage and reactive power

Module 5 – Overcurrent Protection

  • Short circuits, including system faults, and their causes and impacts
  • Goals of distribution system overcurrent protection
  • Circuit breakers, reclosers, sectionalizers, and fuses
  • Importance and principals of protection coordination

Module 6 – Distribution System Reliability

  • Outage causes on distribution
  • Impacts of outages on customers
  • Distribution reliability indices, including SAIFI, SAIDI, and CAIDI
  • Overview of common reliability improvement methods