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A substation is a part of an electrical generation, transmission, and distributi

on system. Substations transform voltage from high to low, or the reverse, or pe

rform any of several other important functions. Between the generating station a
nd consumer, electric power may flow through several substations at different vo
ltage levels.
Substations may be owned and operated by an electrical utility, or may be owned
by a large industrial or commercial customer. Generally substations are unattend
ed, relying on SCADA for remote supervision and control.
A substation may include transformers to change voltage levels between high tran
smission voltages and lower distribution voltages, or at the interconnection of
two different transmission voltages. The word substation comes from the days bef
ore the distribution system became a grid. As central generation stations became
larger, smaller generating plants were converted to distribution stations, rece
iving their energy supply from a larger plant instead of using their own generat
ors. The first substations were connected to only one power station, where the g
enerators were housed, and were subsidiaries of that power station.
Substations may be described by their voltage class, their applications within t
he power system, the method used to insulate most connections, and by the style
and materials of the structures used. These categories are not disjointed; to so
lve a particular problem, a transmission substation may include significant dist
ribution functions, for example.
Transmission substation[edit]
A transmission substation connects two or more transmission lines.[2] The simple
st case is where all transmission lines have the same voltage. In such cases, su
bstation contains high-voltage switches that allow lines to be connected or isol
ated for fault clearance or maintenance. A transmission station may have transfo
rmers to convert between two transmission voltages, voltage control/power factor
correction devices such as capacitors, reactors or static VAR compensators and
equipment such as phase shifting transformers to control power flow between two
adjacent power systems.
Transmission substations can range from simple to complex. A small "switching st
ation" may be little more than a bus plus some circuit breakers. The largest tra
nsmission substations can cover a large area (several acres/hectares) with multi
ple voltage levels, many circuit breakers and a large amount of protection and c
ontrol equipment (voltage and current transformers, relays and SCADA systems). M
odern substations may be implemented using international standards such as IEC S
tandard 61850.
Distribution substation[edit]
A distribution substation in Scarborough, Ontario disguised as a house, complete
with a driveway, front walk and a mown lawn and shrubs in the front yard. A war
ning notice can be clearly seen on the "front door". Disguises for substations a
re common in many cities.[3]
A distribution substation transfers power from the transmission system to the di
stribution system of an area.[2] It is uneconomical to directly connect electric
ity consumers to the main transmission network, unless they use large amounts of
power, so the distribution station reduces voltage to a level suitable for loca
l distribution.
The input for a distribution substation is typically at least two transmission o
r sub transmission lines. Input voltage may be, for example, 115 kV, or whatever
is common in the area. The output is a number of feeders. Distribution voltages
are typically medium voltage, between 2.4 kV and 33 kV depending on the size of
the area served and the practices of the local utility. The feeders run along s

treets overhead (or underground, in some cases) and power the distribution trans
formers at or near the customer premises.
In addition to transforming voltage, distribution substations also isolate fault
s in either the transmission or distribution systems. Distribution substations a
re typically the points of voltage regulation, although on long distribution cir
cuits (of several miles/kilometers), voltage regulation equipment may also be in
stalled along the line.
The downtown areas of large cities feature complicated distribution substations,
with high-voltage switching, and switching and backup systems on the low-voltag
e side. More typical distribution substations have a switch, one transformer, an
d minimal facilities on the low-voltage side.