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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Electric Utilities Fundamentals and Future by University of Colorado System

684 ratings

About the Course

THIS COURSE GIVES YOU THE INSIDE TRACK TO A COMPLICATED INDUSTRY. The approach of this course is truly unique in how it approaches and engages learners. It looks at the electric utility industry, which has remained critical to our quality of life, health and comfort from the eyes of numerous industry experts through on-location interviews, compelling visuals, and animation. You will benefit from having the inside track because you see some behind-the-scenes information not covered in news stories, social media or even if we are in the business ourselves. EACH WEEK YOU NOT ONLY LEARN WHAT IS CHANGING, BUT WHY. As this industry continues to unfold at an unprecedented pace, you will be armed with knowledge and insights to form informed opinions supporting decisions you will increasingly make for your energy-dependent homes and businesses. This course kicks off with animated crash course on industry history, highlighting aspects of the structure, governance, and technology that remain today, despite the passage of time. Then, throughout the modules, you will build some basics about how electricity gets to you, who watches over decisions, including setting rates. This information establishes a knowledge foundation so that when we explore some of the most critical topics, like renewable energy, smart grid, battery storage, and you can think about it from a much more analytical and critical viewpoint. YOU WILL DEVELOP A FRAMEWORK FOR MAKING SENSE OF THIS INDUSTRY THAT WILL BENEFIT YOU BEYOND THIS COURSE. This industry can get pretty complicated, and this course will help you make more sense of it. Electric Utilities Fundamentals and Future is the course for you whether you’re just curious about the industry or an industry veteran looking to grow – or, thinking about joining the industry. (Hint: now is a good time. You'll learn why in this course.) No prior education or experience required. You just need a healthy curiosity and an open mind to learn about an industry that I think a lot of us, including myself sometimes, take for granted....

Top reviews


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The course had a lot of information but it was taught in a way that was easy to understand. I would recommend this course to others because it is a wealth of interesting information.


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This course was very informative and recommend every single on who is currently working with utility company to enroll in this course.

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1 - 25 of 198 Reviews for Electric Utilities Fundamentals and Future

By Spencer W

Jul 9, 2020

If you're interested in the energy transition, take this course with a massive grain of salt (or don't take it at all, there's much better information out there). The presenter is a former Xcel marketing executive and outside of her time as a marketing professor at CU Denver, still does contract work for Xcel. Xcel even endorsed the class when it was published (I wonder why).

Most egregiously, the course fails to mention climate change until the 4th section (of 5) and omits it entirely on the fossil fuels lesson. Even then it's in passing: during the lesson on EVs, it tries to blame climate change on the transportation sector, despite that power makes up some 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other. THAT is the #1 takeaway and what the presenter does not mention once in all 25+ lessons. It describes natural gas as "low emissions," forgets to mention the CO2 associated with burning/producing/transporting natural gas and does not address methane at all (a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than CO2 and the primary component of natural gas). It complains that coal has been "victimized" and really is a great source of power (again, no mention of the effects of coal on the climate, which is the key reason for removing it from our energy mix). She euphemizes climate change as "air pollution" throughout. She goes to lengths to disprove the myth that smart meters cause cancer, but has nothing to say on rampant misinformation campaigns and duplicitous lobbying (which Xcel has participated in) by fossil fuel advocates and climate deniers. Whole videos are dedicated to the issues with renewables (birdstrikes and noise pollution are two she calls out), but again does not discuss the consequences of fossil fuels on climate change once. It ignores comprehensive plans to increase renewable penetration to 60, 75, even 90% of our energy mix without the need for technology breakthroughs, instead using "keeping rates low" as a catch all for why utilities are still dragging their feet. It misses the point entirely: renewables are better for the longevity of our economic system, and therefore the economy, even if it forces utilities to, god forbid, innovate (ignoring that many clean power plans call for lower rates).

For all its faux attention to a balanced conversation, it's pretty blatantly pro industry, pro natural gas/fracking, anti Clean Power Plan, and skeptical of the economics of renewables (the vast majority of air time goes to utility execs; there is no representation of people with legitimate critiques of the energy system, all the quiz questions are subtly phrased to highlight the worst in renewables and the best in fossil, clearly the work of a marketer with experience creating biased surveys -- "select all the reasons renewables are difficult to integrate on the grid"; "select all the benefits of natural gas"; "select all the critques of the Clean Power Plan" -- as opposed to "which of these energy sources will irreparably change our climate the fastest."). It's also way out of date, especially with regards to the latest technologies, despite being filmed in 2015/6 (I assume). In that time, solar, wind, and battery storage costs have fallen past some critical inflection points.

I am incredibly skeptical of the presenters motives in making this course, and frankly surprised Coursera allows such biased, pro-industry content on their site (and specifically pro-Xcel; the final video includes an entire Xecl pitch of their "vision of the future" by, I can only assume, a colleague of the presenter. No wonder they endorsed it; maybe even paid for it, considering the presenter is an Xcel contractor). Coursera either needs to put a big label on this course that it's a utility marketer's perspective (or, if you’re a cynic, and entrenched fossil fuels exec who’s probably getting paid to say these things), or they need to reshoot at least the 1st, 4th and 5th module with updated info and a new presenter (ideally a scientist, not a marketing professor; perhaps the woman from NREL who gets interviewed a few times). If you care about climate, take this course purely to understand a subtle fossil fuel apologist's narrative — cleverly disguised as unbiased educational content — and to appreciate how much progress has been made in just a few years. If you're interested in the future of the power sector/the energy transition, find another, less biased source of information.

By John H

Nov 6, 2017

While the presentation style and overview of utilities was good, the instructors are providing biased and inaccurate information about renewable sources, especially solar and energy storage. Their understanding of storage and net metering is inaccurate and out of date and they show a clear bias toward centralized utilities and fossil fuel (particularly natural gas) generation. What disturbed me most is that they worded both the content and quiz questions to enhance the positive benefits of the centralized model and natural gas while simultaneously downplaying the benefits of solar, wind and energy storage (especially battery technology) while emphasizing negative attributes and misleading the students with inaccurate information about cost-shifting and net metering policies. Very disappointed in their manipulative and biased approach.

By Carlos R

Sep 26, 2017

Great course for people who have no clue how utilities and microgrids work. Take this class if you're considering diving deeper into concepts like green energy, regulation and distributed generation.

By Aishwarya V

Jul 13, 2020

The lessons were taught up to the mark and clearly understood. I wish if Summary or Key-Takeaways of the whole course was available, so that it would help in having quick glance on course.

By Yash V

Jun 23, 2018

Firstly i would thank and appreciate coursera for providing me with the financial aid and helping out numerous other aspiring students waiting to gain knowledge that is very crucial in the upbringing of the society. This course is very much important in understanding the Electrical Utility sector. I would highly recommend this course to the aspiring students as this is very beneficial. Thank you Cousera and Thank you Melissa Wood for this wonderful piece of knowledge!

By Arkoprova M

Jul 17, 2020

Very good introductory course for entering into domain of utility Industry. The only drawback is it focuses more on the United states, rather than the general situation

By Sohan L B

May 3, 2020

A Total Package about the fundamentals, Well Explained. Instructor efforts can obviously seen & observed in the content and the group of the people involved. excellent

By Adnan A

Feb 16, 2021

My experience about Electric Utilities Fundamentals and Future is very good I also face some difficulties but try again and again finally I succeeded.

Thanks Coursera

By Aravind V

Jun 10, 2017

Excellent course! Worth watching every video twice. Great overview of the electric utility industry in the US.

By Aashish

Jul 5, 2017

Well designed program - recommend for anyone interesting in getting a view of the utilities business.

By Edgar S

Nov 12, 2017

Right to the topic. It gave me a broad vision of what is going on in the Electric utility business.

By Sunita M

May 23, 2020

Dr Melissa Wood is a Very Good Teacher.

The course was very informative and very well explained.

By Ritika P

Apr 1, 2019

The way of explanation is pretty amazing and clear.And the content offered is upto the point.

By Joy S

Aug 29, 2017

Fast moving, informative course. Covers the past, present and future. Easy to understand.

By drj b

Jul 10, 2020

It is good to learn and knowing new technologies and latest trends.

By Manuj R

Jun 2, 2020

The course is good but mostly based on the utility based in US.

By Zbigniew C

Jul 3, 2017

More technical issues please.


Aug 27, 2020



Aug 30, 2020

I was particularly pleased with the course content and the way it was organized into modules. The in-lecture pop-up questions keep one on their toes and the end-of-module quizzes aid in further solidifying the concepts learnt. But what really struck me as praiseworthy was the logical and coherent flow of the subject matter. The topics discussed in the course forums are also worthy of a mention. By and large, an excellent course! 9.5/10.

By Micaela C

Jul 25, 2018

Great overview - informative, easy to listen to, loved the variety between videos, lectures, and guest speakers. Seriously amazing! Also loved that controversial topics were introduced with so many sides to the story - I really felt like I learned in a way where I was encouraged to form my own educated opinion as opposed to adopting an opinion of anyone else. So many valid sides to every story were presented in a factual way. Thank you!

By NetCastConsulting

Dec 21, 2019

I enjoyed the course and it was a great overview for me as I am starting to work in the electric industry. I believe that having a good overview will help provide me more context as I am working in the IT cost analysis and contracts management. The course also introduced me to the regulatory component and its impact on how decisions are made for projects. I would recommend anyone in the industry to take this course.


Jul 15, 2017

Wonderful course. Very clearly explained everything and good amount of practical knowledge. Electric utility and over all distribution of electric energy is such an complex task and are done amazingly every hour. Made me more aware of the real ground facts, industry and sate efforts and the state planning on providing the most necessary part of society which general public not even realize.

By usman

Jun 17, 2017

The course is very informative and provide a lot of learning about the electric utilities working in current scenario and also focus on there future. Greatly briefed about the new technologies in electric utilities and shared experience of experts of the industry. Overall, it is a very learning and useful course for the people working in the electric utilities industry.

By Rachel P

Feb 21, 2023

I am a seasoned technology attorney but found this course to be helpful as a review summary for the industry I support, utilities- it really put it altogether. I watched it mostly to see if it would be good for onboarding new colleagues and it is one that I would recommend for those wanting to learn more about utilities.

By Chatakondu S

Mar 24, 2021

I have learned a lot about the grid in terms of operation, regulation, factors affecting the decisions while moving forward etc. The programs, agencies and utilities maybe different but electric industry in al the countries is moving in the same direction. Great course, had fun learning!