Chattanooga, TN (April 26, 2019) – Joe Ferguson has announced his plan to retire as EPB Board Chair on July 31. During his tenure with EPB, Ferguson led the Board in a number of transformative decisions, most notably the approval in 2008 of EPB’s plan to build a community-wide fiber optics network and other advanced infrastructure. As a result of that decision, Chattanooga has been called “The Gig City” and held up as a national model for deploying the world’s fastest internet and America’s most advanced Smart Grid electric distribution system.
“As EPB Board Chair, I’ve had the honor of working with an incredible team of people, who have a passion for serving this community with all of their considerable technical expertise and care for customers,” Ferguson said. “As I retire from the Board, I want to emphasize and celebrate the incredible things everyone at EPB has accomplished for our community.”
David Wade, president and CEO of EPB, highlighted Ferguson’s role in providing leadership and continuity throughout his tenure. “Joe was due to roll off the board around the time I was named CEO in 2016, but he agreed to stay on to facilitate the transition,” Wade said. “He has done a tremendous job of leading the Board as EPB continually strives to provide world-class energy and technology solutions to support our community in realizing its full potential.”
According to Jon Kinsey, former Mayor of Chattanooga and current EPB Board Member, Ferguson also went above and beyond as Board Chair. “Joe played a critical role in helping EPB form and deepen a number of working partnerships including joint-projects with Oak Ridge National Laboratory focused on both research and job creation,” Kinsey said. “Among other efforts, Joe provides personal introductions between Oak Ridge officials and local companies resulting in research partnerships that help area businesses resolve challenges that have become barriers to their growth.”
Ferguson has also served as a strong point of connection and partnership between EPB and many community organizations including the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State, Hamilton County Schools, and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.
In 2018, Ferguson was honored as Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year in recognition of his long and successful career in business as well as his many contributions to community efforts and organizations including EPB.
Ferguson plans to continue his decades-long volunteer efforts focused on local growth and educational attainment. “I may be retiring from the EPB Board, but I’m not retiring from the community,” Ferguson said. “I’m midstream on working with a number of organizations on a range of educational and economic development projects. I look forward to continuing those efforts.”
“I’m proud to have worked with the EPB team and cultivated partnerships that support its mission of service to the community,” Ferguson said. “As much as EPB has accomplished in recent years, I believe this is just the beginning. Chattanooga’s advanced infrastructure and research partnerships represent a strong foundation for continuing to pioneer innovative solutions that give our community a competitive edge.”
Ferguson joined the EPB Board in 1991. He was tapped as chairman in 2000.
Key EPB milestones during Joe Ferguson’s tenure as Board Chair:
- 2000: EPB Telecom launches, providing local businesses with affordable, reliable telecommunications services.
- 2006: EPB completes construction of its new downtown building on Martin Luther King Blvd, which was designed to become a new landmark structure in Chattanooga’s City Center.
- 2007 (August): Joe Ferguson leads the EPB Board in approving the plan for EPB to build a community-wide fiber optics network.
- 2008: EPB secures bond funding and begins building the fiber network. The plan calls for EPB Fiber Optics to begin providing services as soon as the infrastructure reaches each customer’s home, so EPB also serves its first residential internet, television, and phone customers.
- 2009: EPB wins a competitive process and is awarded a federal stimulus grant in the amount of $111 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to expedite the build and implementation of the Smart Grid.
- 2010: EPB completes the build-out of the fiber network to all homes and businesses in the service area. EPB Fiber Optics launches “The Gig” internet service with stories in the New York Times and other national media outlets.
- 2012: EPB completes installation of the 1,170th smart switch (IntelliRupter® PulseCloser), which equips the entire 600 square-mile service area with the nation’s most automated Smart Grid network.
- 2013: EPB’s downtown headquarters building is LEED Certified, making it the first existing commercial building in Chattanooga to obtain this certification.
- 2014 (March): EPB completes construction of its new Control Center, which brings control of EPB’s Electric Power and Fiber Optics systems into a single, state-of-the-art command center. EPB is the first U.S. utility to bring together all of these departments and processes under one roof to share cutting-edge technology, increased workspace and massive amounts of real time data. For the customer, this means faster and more efficient response to their needs and weather-related outages.
- 2014 (October): EPB establishes a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to use Chattanooga’s Smart Grid as a living laboratory to test and develop new energy technologies.
- 2015 (October): Chattanooga launches the world’s first community-wide 10 gigabit internet service, which is available to all homes and businesses within EPB’s 600 square-mile service area.
- 2016: EPB Fiber Optics is named America’s best provider of internet and television services by Consumer Reports, based on customer rankings for reliability, quality of products and customer service.
- 2017: EPB launches Solar Share, Chattanooga’s first community solar program that lowers the barriers for Electric Power customers to participate in renewable energy with several options. Participating customers license nearly 1,000 solar panels during the first week after launch.
- 2018 (July): For a third consecutive year, customers participating in J.D. Power’s annual Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study gave EPB the highest Customer Satisfaction Score for mid-sized utilities in the South region, based on feedback from customers about quality and reliability, price, billing, corporate citizenship and customer service.
- 2018 (October): Nine years after EPB Fiber Optics served its first residential customers, the municipal utility that established Chattanooga as America’s First Gig City grew its subscriber total to more than 100,000 residential and business customers.
- 2019 (February): EPB Fiber Optics tripled its most popular internet speed at no additional cost. Residential customers who subscribed to the 100 Mbps internet speed were upgraded to 300 Mbps with no increase in the price. At the same time, EPB adjusted the price of its residential 1-Gigabit Fi-Speed Internet from $69.99 to $67.99 per month. As a result, starting-speed customers can upgrade to a Gig for just $10 more per month. These enhancements ensure customers enjoy the best possible experience as they add more internet connected devices in their homes, and enable the adoption of future online technologies.
EPB Fast Facts
- Since 2012, EPB has used the Smart Grid to reduce the number and duration of outages by more than 55% per year, saving local business and residential electric customers about $55 million by preventing lost productivity, spoilage, and other negative impacts from outages.
- The value of the Smart Grid has dramatically increased EPB’s payments to local governments which have grown to more than $20 million per year, making the utility the largest local tax payer.
- In 2017, three years ahead of schedule, EPB Fiber Optics paid off the $70 million debt for the additional equipment and infrastructure necessary to launch internet, television, and telephone service. This did not include the Smart Grid equipment or other electric system components such as the fiber optics network.
- Thanks to the deployment of the nation’s most advanced Smart Grid, Chattanooga has become a preferred location for national research to field test new smart grid technologies and operating procedures. EPB customers benefit from the development of these pioneering new technologies and operating practices which will also support other utilities in upgrading their infrastructure. To date, EPB has been tapped to participate in 20 research projects with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other national research entities receiving $37.72 M of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and other funders in support of these groundbreaking efforts.
Established as an independent board of the City of Chattanooga in 1935, EPB is a municipally-owned utility that provides electric power and fiber optic communications services as a means of promoting economic development and enhancing quality of life across the local area.
EPB serves nearly 180,000 homes and businesses in a 600 square-mile area that includes greater Chattanooga, as well as parts of surrounding counties and areas of North Georgia.
In 2010, EPB became the first provider in the United States to deliver up to 1 Gig (1,000 mbps) internet speeds utilizing a community-wide fiber optic network that provides access to every home and business in its service area. In 2015, EPB became the first, and to date, only American ISP to launch a 10 Gig (10,000 mbps) internet product as a standard offer accessible to all of its residential and commercial customers.
EPB has also utilized its community-wide fiber optic network to deploy the most advanced and
highly automated smart grid power management system in the nation. In recognition of EPB’s groundbreaking infrastructure, the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
are utilizing EPB’s smart grid as a national model for researching and developing best practices for implementing and utilizing a variety of technologies. EPB is also the first major power distribution utility to earn the USGBC’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid. For more information, go to EPB.com