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Power station Transformer Power transmission line Transformer
Simplified diagram of AC electricity distribution from generation stations to consumers

In electrical power business, a transmission system operator (TSO) is an operator that transmits electrical power from generation plants to regional or local electricity distribution operators.

Description

Transmission system operators use very high voltage (above 100 kV) electrical lines with transformers being used to reduce the voltage to below 66 kV, for electrical power distribution.

Transmission system operators are the backbone of the electrical power grid, and are often wholly or partly owned by state or national governments. Transmission system operators link power generators with distribution companies according to transparent and fair rules. In many cases they are independent of electricity generation companies (upstream) and electricity distribution companies (downstream). They are financed either by the states or countries or by charging a toll proportional to the energy they carry.

Safety and reliability are a critical issue for transmission system operators, since any failure on their grid or their electrical generation sources might propagate to a very large number of customers, causing personal and property damages. Natural hazards and generation/consumption imbalances are a major cause of concern. To minimise the probability of grid instability and failure, regional or national transmission system operators are interconnected to each other. Between them, they are responsible for the overall load management on the main distribution grid.

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