Electrical Distribution Principles and Applications

Upcoming dates (1)

Jul. 16-18, 2024

Madison, WI or Live Online

Course Overview

This course has been updated and expanded! Through brief lectures, videos, group discussions and an opportunity to work on distribution problems, this course will help you: 

  • Apply the fundamental concepts of AC electricity
  • Describe the fundamental principles involved in the operation of three-phase electrical distribution systems
  • Identify and work with the electrical load characteristics associated with an electrical distribution system
  • Perform and understand electric circuit calculations
  • Understand and apply distribution planning principles and engineering economics
  • Select proper conductors, cables, and transformers for use in a distribution system
  • Recognize and understand the importance of distribution system overcurrent protection, insulation coordination, grounding, and overvoltage protection

Who Should Attend?

This course will benefit, regardless of experience level:

  • Utility engineers
  • Technicians
  • Designers
  • Planners
  • Line workers
  • Electricians
  • Supervisors
  • Contractors
  • Consultants
  • Key account managers

Course Outline

Fundamental Concepts of AC Electricity

  • Alternating voltage and current
  • Resistance, reactance, and impedance
  • Active, reactive, and apparent power
  • Power factor 

Three-Phase Electrical Distribution

  • Three-phase circuits
  • Wye and delta connections
  • Power in three-phase circuits
  • Grounding in three-phase circuits 

Electrical Load Characteristics

  • Demand and energy
  • Demand factor
  • Coincidence/diversity factor
  • Load factor
  • Load estimation exercise 

Electric Circuit Calculations

  • Voltage and current
  • Voltage drop
  • Power losses
  • Power factor and compensation
  • Calculation exercises 

Voltage Regulation

  • Voltage drop in typical circuits
  • Acceptable voltage ranges
  • Voltage dips
  • Control of voltage

Conductors and Cables

  • Resistance and reactance
  • Thermal capacity
  • Voltage drop limitations
  • Economical conductor selection exercise
  • Economics of power factor compensation exercise


  • Transformer theory
  • Resistance and reactance
  • Thermal capacity
  • Economical transformer selection and loading exercise
  • The per-unit system 


  • Purposes and methods
  • "Effectively" grounded
  • Ground resistivity
  • Equipment ground connections 

Overcurrent Protection

  • Overloads
  • Short circuits
  • Short circuit analysis and exercise
  • Equipment damage
  • Circuit breakers
  • Switches
  • Fuses
  • Time/overcurrent characteristics
  • Protective coordination exercise 

Insulation Coordination and Overvoltage Protection

  • Nature of overvoltages
  • Basic impulse level (BIL)
  • Properties of insulation
  • Line and equipment insulation coordination
  • Lightning arresters and application exercise 

Distribution Planning

  • Planning criteria
  • Design criteria
  • Operating performance
  • Economic performance
  • Planning exercise 

Distribution Economics

  • Economical conductor selection
  • Economical transformer selection
  • Economics of power factor compensation
  • Economics of voltage upgrades 

Course Wrap-Up and Evaluation


"I will firmly recommend [this course] to other designers. The real world experience is very useful."
—Carl Lake, CAD Engineer, G&W Electric

"Presentations were very informative. Covered all aspects of a distribution system very well. Very good review and I learned a lot."
—Brandon Frick, Engineer, Northwestern Energy

"Very useful information. I appreciated the inclusion of problems to work personally."
—Ryan Jones, Oklahoma Gas & Electric

"This was a great overview of the basic distribution practices and principles. The example problems were really good."
—Echo Brown, Engineer, AEP, Tulsa, Oklahoma


R. John Miner

R. John Miner, PE, is president of Collaborative Learning, Inc. of Austin and San Antonio, Texas and has more than 40 years of experience in the electric utility industry. A course instructor for the University of Wisconsin for more than 20 years, Miner has conducted educational programs throughout the country and at several overseas locations. He earned a BS degree in electrical engineering with honors and an MS degree in engineering science from the University of Toledo.

Shalini Bhat

Shalini Bhat, PE, is a program director at the Office of Interdisciplinary Professional Programs at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She has over 15 years of experience in the power industry. Previously, she has worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Cooper Power Systems. Most recently, she was a Senior Distribution Protection Engineer for seven years at WE Energies in Wisconsin.

M. Thomas Black

Tom 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 36 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 acquisition including renewables, peaking and base load supply, electric transmission and distribution and gas distribution. 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.

Upcoming dates (1)

Program Director

Shalini Bhat

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