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What Is Electricity?

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What is electricity? Where does it come from? What are the costs of our dependency on oil? Understanding the answers to these questions allows us to appreciate why it is prudent to conserve energy.

Electricity is a form of energy produced by the movement of electrons from atom to atom. Electrons tend to stay put in their orbits (or "shells") as long as the atom has the same number of positively charged protons and negatively charged electrons. When something upsets this balance, electrons leave their orbits and become "free electrons." An unbalanced condition can be caused by static electricity, by a magnetic field, or by a chemical reaction, such as in a dry cell battery.


Figure 1
Electrical current
The movement of electrons to atoms missing an electron is the basis of electricity.