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Mini-Course: Introduction to Utility Distribution Systems

  • Thu, October 28, 2021
  • (EDT)
  • Sat, October 28, 2023
  • (EDT)
  • Online, you will receive an email link upon paid registration.


  • To register, please list one person as the primary registrant, and the remaining two or more people as guests. This will activate the discount for all individuals. All must be paid with this registration.

    Each guest will receive the links and the ability to individually watch the recordings for a period of 30 days after the course.
  • This registration will give you access to the recordings for 30 days after the event, in case you need to miss part of, or would like to review the course.

    If there are 3 or more of you, please use the group registration.
  • Your course has been paid for. Register with the code that was provided, and your spot is reserved.


Introduction to Utility Distribution Systems

Recorded 10/28/2021 • 3.0 PDHs

This course provides a comprehensive and practical overview of electric utility distribution systems from transmission or generation source to the end-use customer. Participants who are new to this subject area will benefit from survey coverage of distribution substations, Distributed Energy resources (DERs), overhead and underground distribution system characteristics, including advantages and disadvantages of each, key distribution system components, and equipment types.

This course combines real-time instructor-facilitated presentations with videos and photos, quizzes, live polling, Q&A sessions, and group discussions.


Those who are relatively inexperienced in the industry or to the distribution system, as well as those with experience who want to “refresh and update” their understanding of the underlying theory of electrical distribution and its applications. Those who work at all organization levels and in all areas of responsibility for the distribution system including: engineering managers, design engineers, operations managers, crew supervisors, senior lineworkers, and consulting engineers. Managers and employees from other functional areas of the utility (finance and accounting, customer service, community relations, etc.) will also benefit from this course.


 The electric utility distribution system: purpose,

   functions and components

•  Overhead vs. underground distribution

•  Distribution system energy sources 

•  Distribution feeder circuits 

•  Conductors and cables

•  Overhead and underground structures

•  Voltage control equipment

•  Overcurrent and overvoltage protection equipment 


Basic/Intermediate: No prerequisites; Some advance preparation is requested, including completing a brief pre-course survey and selected readings.  



§  Agenda, Key Ideas, Learning Objectives
§  Introductions and Interests

The utility distribution system

§  Traditional purpose and functions
§  Emerging purposes, functions & challenges

Distribution system energy sources

§  Transmission delivery points (Substations)
§  Distribution delivery points (DERs)

Distribution feeder circuits

§  Voltage levels
§  Arrangements

Distribution components and functions

§  Conductors and cables

§  Overhead line structures

§  Underground line structures

§  Distribution transformers

§  Voltage regulators

§  Capacitors

§  Circuit breakers, recloses, sectionalizers and fuses

§  Switches

§  Lightning arresters

Course Wrap-Up and Evaluation 



Upon completion of this virtual course, attendees will be able to successfully:
  • Describe the traditional and emerging purpose and functions of the electric utility distribution system 
  • Explain how the distribution system delivers electricity to end-use customers
  • Explain how the distribution system receives electricity from Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)
  • Use basic distribution system technology concerning voltage, current, power and components
  • Visually recognize and name distribution system components and equipment


R. John Miner, P.E. is an accomplished executive manager and educator with over forty-five years of experience in the electric utility industry. He is nationally known and respected for his subject area knowledge of utility enterprises and his skills as a consultant and facilitator.  John is president of Collaborative Learning, Inc. of Austin, Texas, a firm that presents management and technical education programs and, through Collaboration Unlimited, provides management consulting services to the electric utility industry.  John’s technical seminars and workshops for utilities have covered such topics as application of the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), overhead and underground distribution systems, electric system planning, construction, operations, and maintenance. John has served as Chief Operating Officer for the Austin, Texas, Electric Utility Department, as General Manager of the Rochester, Minnesota Public Utilities, and as Senior Engineer/Project Manager for the Toledo Edison Company. His academic experience includes an appointment as Assistant Professor on the faculty of the University of Houston’s College of Technology. Mr. Miner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering (with honors), and a Master of Science degree in engineering science, both from the University of Toledo.  John is a Senior Life Member of the IEEE and is a registered Professional Engineer in the states of Texas and Minnesota.

Tom Black, P.E.
 is an independent consultant and course instructor in the electric and gas utility industry.
  His experience includes both municipal (Colorado Springs and City of Fountain, CO) and Investor owned (Progress Energy) utilities across multiple jurisdictions in Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. His range of experience in the utility industry covers 30 years and includes planning and engineering, standards, Construction and Maintenance Manager, Energy Delivery General Manager and Chief Energy Officer responsible for all aspects of energy supply, electric transmission and distribution and gas distribution. 
Tom has significant utility experience in the development of tracking and reporting electric and gas system performance metrics. Results were used in the development of targeted maintenance and replacement programs intended to improve system performance and manage overall costs. As the Energy Delivery General Manager, Mr. Black was responsible for the development of Colorado Springs Utilities first NERC compliance program. Tom has served on the boards of RMEL and the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities CAMU and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis with honors and is a registered professional engineer in Colorado and Arizona. 


In case you miss any part of the course, or want to review it, your registration includes full access to the course recordings for 30 days.

Individual cost – $295.00

Organizations registering 3 or more individuals, per person – $245.00 

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