Ask the Superexpert about Electricity & Natural Gas

Have you ever wondered why shoes hanging on a power line don’t get fried? Or why natural gas flames are blue? Now you can get answers to these and all your energy-related questions. Just Ask an Superexpert!

The Superexpert answers new questions regularly, so check back to see if YOUR question is up!”

Click here to ask a new question

To stay safe around electricity, it’s important to understand that electricity is always trying to get to the ground. Conductors—such as water and metal—let electricity flow through them easily. Because our bodies are mostly water, humans are excellent conductors. So if you contact electricity from a power line or an electrical cord or device, electricity will use your body as its path to the ground, and you could be seriously hurt or killed. Some ways to be safe around electricity include staying far away from power lines, keeping electrical devices away from water, and never using anything with a damaged power cord. You can find more electrical safety tips on our website here.

Some forms of renewable energy are best for certain climates, geographic areas or times of day. This is why PG&E and other utilities rely on a mix of renewable energy, nuclear energy and fossil fuels to generate electricity. When one energy resource is not available or is too expensive, a different resource can be used to meet people’s electricity needs.

First, a little background for you and our other readers, Erik: In everyday use, electricity typically refers to electrically charged particles, called electrons, moving through metal wires. This flow of electricity is called current. Most metals conduct electricity, and metals like copper, silver, aluminum, brass and gold are especially good conductors of electricity because they let current flow through them easily. Water is another good conductor of electricity; because your body is mostly water, you are a great conductor, too! That’s why it’s so important to use electricity safely and avoid contacting electrical current. You can learn how to do this by visiting the Electrical Safety-SMART! section of this website:

Answer: This is a very important subject to be teaching kids, Phong, and we are happy to help direct you to some answers!

Answer: Wind power starts with the sun. When the sun heats air close to the ground, the warm air rises. Wind is created when cooler air rushes into the empty space left by the rising warm air. When the blades of a wind turbine capture wind energy and start moving, they spin a shaft (long rod) that connects to the hub of the wind turbine. The energy of the spinning shaft is transferred to an electrical generator. The generator produces electricity by spinning a magnet inside a coil of wires. When the magnet turns, it pushes electrons through the wires and generates electricity.

Answer: Lights run on electricity. If you leave lights on when you’re not using them, you waste electricity. Turning off lights when you leave a room not only saves electricity, it also helps reduce your family’s energy bill. For more ideas on how to save energy, check out the Energy Efficiency page of this website:

Answer: Electricity is measured in voltage (abbreviated as volts) and amperage (abbreviated as amps). To understand the difference between them, think of water in a hose. Opening the hose faucet supplies the pressure to move the water, and this pressure is like voltage. The amount of water that moves through the hose is like amperage. There is a third unit of measurement, wattage (abbreviated as watts) that describes the work electricity does. Watts are the product of volts and amps. Or, to say it mathematically, watts = volts x amps.

Answer: The energy cycle is a process by which some of the sun’s energy is cycled through plants and then released back into the environment. The cycle starts with photosynthesis, in which plants capture sunlight to produce sugars. The sugars are used by plants as food to give them energy to grow. Because animals can’t produce their own food the way plants can, they get their energy by consuming plants, or animals that have eaten plants. When the animals die, they decompose and the energy that is stored in their bodies is released back into the environment, completing the cycle.

Answer: PG&E provides both natural gas and electricity to our customers (hence our name, Pacific Gas & Electric). We serve approximately 15 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California.

Answer: Turbines turn electromagnets that are surrounded by heavy coils of copper wire. The moving magnets cause the electrons in the copper wire to move from atom to atom, generating electricity.

Answer: A substation is a facility where equipment lowers the voltage of the electricity in high-voltage transmission lines so that the electricity can travel safely along smaller lines for local distribution. The equipment inside a substation is very dangerous to touch; that’s why substations have warning signs on them and you should never go inside one.

Answer: This is a lot of questions wrapped up in one! Because it would take up a lot of space for me to address all of them here, I think the best way for you to get your answers is to check out the In Case of an Electrical Emergency link in the Electrical Safety-SMART! section of this website at

See more questions

Ask a new question