New Duke Online Course Demystifies the Electric Industry

New York City at night

You now that electricity is what turns on the lights in your house, runs your washing machine, and powers the machine that makes your coffee in the morning. But do you really know how electricity gets to your home to do those things?

Lincoln Pratson explains it all in a new online course, “Electric Industry Operations and Markets”, offered on Coursera. Pratson is the Gendell Family Professor of Energy & Environment at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and co-leads a Duke research group on energy markets.

The short course is aimed at people interested in working in the electric industry, as well as those interested in understanding the industry for professional or personal reasons.

“The course is relatively unique in that it not only provides an overview of how the electric industry operates to produce and deliver electricity, but also how electric markets both regulate and incentivize the industry to supply electricity in a way that instantaneously and reliably meets demand in the absence of any significant amount of electrical energy storage,” said Pratson.

In the course, Pratson delivers concise, straightforward video lectures explaining essential concepts like electric energy vs. electric power, how electric generators and transformers work and why there are different types of power plants. Diagrams and animations illustrate his lectures, illuminating everyday mysteries like how electricity is transmitted over wires and the purpose of the electrical substations you see around your city.

course video still
Duke University Professor Lincoln Pratson explains electromagnetism in a video still from the new online course “Electric Industry Operations and Markets.”

“Electric Industry Operations and Markets” is the second course Pratson has created for Duke on Coursera. Last year he released “Oil and Gas Industry Operations and Markets,” and thousands of learners from countries including the United States, India, Egypt, Great Britain and Nigeria have enrolled. 76% of students in that course said they are taking it to learn skills they will use in their career.

“Doing the ‘Oil and Gas Industry’ MOOC was excellent preparation for producing the ‘Electric Industry MOOC’. In fact, I based the format of the latter on the former,” said Pratson. “That said, the electric industry is very different from the oil and gas industry, so the content of this new MOOC is very different and the course stands on its own.”

For more information and to register, visit “Electric Industry Operations and Markets” on Coursera.