Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Chattanooga Subs Continue to Increase as Smart Grid Saves
In May of 2017 we congratulated Chattanooga’s EPB Fiber for exceeding 90,000 subscribers and contributing to lower power rates for all (Electric Power Board) EPB customers. Now less than a year later, there is more to celebrate as EPB expects to reach 100,000 subscribers by Fall 2018 and is still lowering electricity costs for all customers.
The city-owned electric utility launched its citywide fiber optic network in 2009 and never looked back. The original plan issued nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in debt for the utility and had an estimated forecast for only 35,000 subscribers. The city is now reaping the rewards from its investment; the utility paid off the last of its debt earlier this year, and now projected revenues for the fiscal year 2018-2019 from the telecom division sit at $169.1 million.
For a detailed, interesting history on EPB Fiber Optics, take some time to listen to Harold DePriest talk with Christopher in episode 230 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Before retiring, Harold was the tip of the spear in bringing the network to Chattanooga.
While EPB has long been recognized for its lightning fast Internet speeds and has repeatedly been ranked among the fastest in the U.S. (including this year’s fourth fastest ISP in the United States), the utility’s fiber optic lines also help lower power rates for all customers by eight percent. Whether Chattanoogans subscribe to EPB Fiber for Internet access or not, they still benefit from the infrastructure.
The fiber optic network that EPB installed nearly a decade ago not only allow the ISP to provide gigabit connectivity, it was also strategically built on top of the preexisting power grid, creating its “smart grid.” This allows the utility to monitor its electrical system in real time and to read all meters every 15 minutes, saving the cost of sending technicians into the field. Additionally, the smart grid is able to instantly reroute power in the case of an outage, saving the city $50 million annually and dramatically reducing power outages. These savings mean lower electricity costs for all of EPB’s customers, not just those subscribing to Internet.
A February 2017 the Berkman Klein Center studied benefits from Chattanooga's smart grid and estimated it offered $23.6 million in direct annual paybacks and revenue along with significant indirect benefits. Read more about the report and the methodology.
In its most recently proposed budget plan, EPB projects a return of $45 million in payments from the telecom network to the electric system and $24.3 million in earnings from its telecom division will help lower power rates by eight percent.
Smart Grid Revolution
Smart grid technology is allowing others to cut costs for customers. Ouachita Electric Cooperative, located in south-central Arkansas, reduces costs for members by utilizing their fiber optic network to track electricity use. Similarly, Tullahoma, Tennessee, uses Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to automatically read electric and water meters and significantly reduce costs. Fiber optic networks not only bring fast, affordable, reliable Internet access, they also allow for smarter and more efficient utilities, cutting costs for both cities and subscribers.
Lexington, Tennessee is the latest U.S. city that will soon see the expansion of more affordable fiber thanks to the city-owned utility, Lexington Electric System (LES). LES’ recent $27.49 million state grant award will be the backbone of a new initiative that will both improve the utility’s electrical services, and deliver a long overdue dose of broadband competition to the area. The plan is deploy over 2,100 miles of fiber to bring high-speed Internet access to 22,000 residents across Henderson, Decatur, Benton, Carroll and Hardin counties that already receive electricity service from the utility.
Tennessee cooperatives and utilities came out at the top of the heap in the latest round of awards from the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund, netting nearly half of all money awarded for the expansion of more affordable broadband statewide. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) awarded $446.8 million to 36 applicants, who are now tasked with deploying improved broadband service to 150,000 unserved homes and businesses across 58 Tennessee counties. All told, TNECD said that 218 applicants applied for a total of $1.2 billion in broadband funding. Of the $446.8 million in awards, utilities and cooperatives walked away with $204.4 million.
New York Public Housing Solutions, Cable Speed Increases, and the Effects of Inflation | Episode 54 of the Connect This! Show
Join us live on Thursday, September 22, at 4pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting).