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Learn About Electricity

When we turn on a light switch or an appliance, we often don't think about what is happening to bring that electricity to us. Since the early discoveries in the 1800's it has been taken for granted that when you get up in the morning, you will have electricity to run the pump to provide water, listen to the radio, watch TV and of course check your email.

The word electricity came from the Greek word elektron, meaning amber. Several centuries ago it was noticed that when you rubbed an amber stone things "stuck" to it. This was the beginning of the discovery of electricity in its simplest form - static electricity.

In 1800 Alessandro Volta made the first electric cell - an electric cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy. About 30 years later Michael Faraday made the first electric generator.

Electricity is electrons in motion. Every atom has three basic parts - electrons, protons and neutrons. An electron carries a tiny negative charge. Electricity occurs in nature in the form of lightning, electric eels and the small shock you sometimes feel when you touch a doorknob, particularly in the winter.

To get electrons moving so we can turn on lights and run factories, we build power plants where magnets are spun inside coils of wire. The spinning magnets put electrons in motion inside the wires, creating electricity. This is called a generator. No matter what method is used to turn the magnets, the electricity produced by the generator is the same.

There are two major categories of energy resources:

  • Renewable, which means the resource can be used over and over again. Examples of renewable energy resources are wind, solar, and water.
  • Non-renewable; this type of resource can be used only once. Examples of non-renewable resources are oil and coal.

NB Power uses both renewable and non-renewable energy resources to supply the entire province of New Brunswick with electricity.