EPB smart grid generates $2.7 billion in first decade

Needing a smart grid that would deliver state-of-the-art communications services to homes and businesses, EPB partnered with Hexagon to build a fiber optic smart grid using its advanced telecommunications GIS software.

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The challenge

Established in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1935, EPB is one of the largest publicly owned providers of electric power in the United States. The city-owned distribution and telecommunications company provides power to consumers in the greater Chattanooga area.

In the early 2000’s, EPB decided a smart grid would best position its customers, and the region, for the future. EPB searched for a smart grid based on a fiber optic communications infrastructure, which would deliver state-of-the-art communications services to homes and businesses and provide advanced communication options such as broadband and video. As part of the plan to connect fiber to the home and later provide advanced communications services to its customers, EPB needed to design fiber routes and monitor the connectivity of the best route for the most customers.

The utility also needed an electric system that would better communicate with its customers and allow it to have more control over energy use management, while also identifying and restoring power outages more quickly.

The solution

In September 2010, EPB became the first company in the U.S. to offer one gigabit-per-second internet speed, a critical component of next-generation technology innovation and economic development. The exclusive capability attracted worldwide attention and earned Chattanooga the nickname “Gig City.”

EPB also installed 1,170 automated interruptible switches (intellirupters) as part of its smart grid project. The utility uses Hexagon technology to model these intellirupters as part of the electric and fiber optic network and serves as a source in the development of the “teaming” configuration for each device. A tornado event in 2012 proved the ability of the smart grid to respond to outages by automatically restoring power to many of the 3,600 affected homes.

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