A substation is a part of an electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system. Substations transform voltage from high to low, or the reverse, or perform any of several other important functions. Electric power may flow through several substations between generating plant and consumer, and its voltage may change in several steps.
Substations may be owned and operated by a transmission or generation electrical utility, or may be owned by a large industrial or commercial customer. Generally substations are un-attended, relying on SCADA for remote supervision and control.
A substation may include transformers to change voltage levels between high transmission voltages and lower distribution voltages, or at the interconnection of two different transmission voltages. The word substation comes from the days before the distribution system became a grid. As central generation stations became larger, smaller generating plants were converted to distribution stations, receiving their energy supply from a larger plant instead of using their own generators. The first substations were connected to only one power station, where the generators were housed, and were subsidiaries of that power station.