But I would still agree with you that we would be well-served to upgrade and modernize our electric transmission lines. It would save us power in the long run.Transmitting electricity at high voltage reduces the fraction of energy lost to resistance, which averages around 7%. For a given amount of power, a higher voltage reduces the current and thus the resistive losses in the conductor. For example, raising the voltage by a factor of 10 reduces the current by a corresponding factor of 10 and therefore the I2R losses by a factor of 100, provided the same sized conductors are used in both cases. Even if the conductor size (cross-sectional area) is reduced 10-fold to match the lower current the I2R losses are still reduced 10-fold. Long distance transmission is typically done with overhead lines at voltages of 115 to 1,200 kV. At extremely high voltages, more than 2,000 kV between conductor and ground, corona discharge losses are so large that they can offset the lower resistance loss in the line conductors. Measures to reduce corona losses include conductors having large diameter; often hollow to save weight, or bundles of two or more conductors.
Transmission and distribution losses in the USA were estimated at 6.6% in 1997 and 6.5% in 2007. In general, losses are estimated from the discrepancy between energy produced (as reported by power plants) and energy sold to end customers; the difference between what is produced and what is consumed constitute transmission and distribution losses.
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