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Our History

A long-standing history of serving Chattanooga

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Serving our community for over 80 years

Founded with the mission to “enhance quality of life for our customers and support local economic growth,” EPB was established in 1939 as an independent board of the City of Chattanooga.

Over the years, EPB has served our customers when they’ve needed us most, from turning on the lights for our first customers in 1939 to helping Chattanoogans struggle through the energy crisis of the 1970’s and weather the worst snow storm outage in the city’s history in 1993.

After launching EPB Fiber Optics in 2009, EPB leaped to national attention a year later by making Chattanooga “The Gig City” by offering 1,000 Mbps residential internet speeds (The Gig) — which The New York Times reported as the fastest in the country. And in 2015, EPB was the first in the world to offer 10,000 Mbps to every home and business in the community.

Since then, EPB has continued to provide Chattanooga with reliable service, expanding energy solutions, and state-of-the-art fiber optics technology, which spawned one of the nation’s smartest Smart Grids and the world’s fastest internet.

Our History

1935

EPB was created by a private act passed by the Tennessee legislature.

1939

EPB started serving its first customers in January - six homes in East Chattanooga from offices located at City Hall.

That August, EPB paid $10.85 million for its portion of the TEPCO system and became the provider of electricity in Chattanooga, Hamilton County and other surrounding counties, instantly acquiring 42,000 customers.

1945-1958

EPB's customer base grew by 70% and kilowatt-hour use increased by 288%.

1970

As the energy crisis worsened, EPB shifted communications efforts from encouraging energy consumption to energy conservation.

1993

March saw the worst snow storm in Chattanooga's recorded history, as more than 20 inches fell, affecting 72,000 customers and taking eight days to restore power at a cost of approximately $2.1 million.

2000

EPB Telecom launched, providing the area with affordable, reliable telecommunications service for local businesses.

2006

EPB moved into its new headquarters, a 95,000 square foot building, with attached 500-car parking garage, representing a new standard in building science and environmental sustainability. Located on M.L. King Blvd., the building is an important part of the continuing revitalization of downtown Chattanooga.

2008

EPB secured a bond to begin construction of Chattanooga’s Smart Grid, a next-generation electric system that includes communication capabilities in order to reduce outages, improve response time, reduce theft and help customers manage their electric power usage. Building upon ten years of research and development, Chattanooga’s Smart Grid is the most advanced, automated system in the United States.

2009

EPB was awarded a federal stimulus grant in the amount of $111 million from the Department of Energy for expediting the build and implementation of the Smart Grid.

2010

EPB announced the availability of residential symmetrical Fi-Speed Internet connection speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps — by far the fastest residential internet in the nation.

2011

EPB took the final step in completing its fiber optic network by deploying fiber optics to the outlying community of Haletown, Tennessee. The final splice makes the most powerful communication network in the world available to every home and business in EPB's 600-square-mile service area.

2013

EPB completed the installation of Smart Meters in the spring for all homes and businesses in EPB’s 600 square mile service area. By integrating meters with the Smart Grid Management System, six billion data points are collected annually. This data provides automated meter reading and billing, outage and voltage anomaly detection, automated connect and disconnect and theft detection. Customers have online access to their power usage in 15-minute intervals. 

2014

In February, the community’s smart grid was put to the test by a heavy, wet snowfall. Up to 11 inches fell throughout the area, making this the biggest snowfall since the Blizzard of ’93. This storm affected about 76,000 customers, but the smart grid automatically restored or prevented about 40,000 outages. Hundreds of crews and contractors from outside of Chattanooga came to help restore the remaining 36,000 customers within three days – a job that would have required eight days to finish prior to the Smart Grid.

In August, EPB launched Smart Build, a first-of-its-kind program that incentivizes building new homes that meet energy efficiency standards and are ready for next-generation fiber optic services. EPB Smart Build is a partnership with a growing list of local home builders and offers several certification benefits for new home buyers.

2015

Chattanooga launched 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. EPB completed the groundbreaking project by implementing Alcatel-Lucent’s TWDM-PON broadband technology. Shortly afterward, Chattanooga radiologist Dr. Jim Busch became the world’s first residential 10 gigabit subscriber.

2016

EPB Fiber Optics was named America’s best provider of internet and television services by Consumer Reports, after their reader survey of 172,000 subscribers revealed top rankings for reliability, quality of products and customer service.   

2017

EPB launched 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 licensed nearly 1,000 solar panels during the first week after the launch.

2018

Just nine years after launching, EPB Fiber Optics celebrated over 100,000 customers – which represents about 60% of the market.

And, 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.

2019

In June, EPB launched an all-new EPB Fi TV, which uses the world’s fastest internet to deliver the ultimate TV experience. Along with many advanced features, some previously unavailable on Fi TV, the new EPB Fi TV enables customers to watch on popular streaming and mobile devices anytime, anywhere without the expense of leasing Set Top Boxes.

In August, The Chattanooga Lookouts became the first minor league baseball team in America to play a game that is 100 percent carbon neutral. The “Green Power Night” home game was powered through locally-generated solar energy credits provided by EPB in partnership with TVA. The celebrate this historic occasion, the Lookouts played the game wearing special green jerseys.

2020

In March, as the global COVID-19 pandemic forced students and teachers to utilize online methods of distance learning and created a rapid transition to remote working, EPB’s in-place infrastructure helped companies, employees and students continue to work and learn as businesses and schools outsourced their internal networks to Chattanooga’s community-wide fiber optic network.

In April, when tornadoes, heavy storms and high winds rolled across the community on Easter Sunday, more than 106,000 EPB customers lost power. Almost instantaneously, Chattanooga’s smart grid began its automated processes which prevented about 44,000 customers from experiencing an outage that would have lasted hours or perhaps days. This allowed EPB to immediately focus on repair efforts for about 62,000 customers who remained without power.

We were able to accelerate rebuilding of a substantial portion of Chattanooga’s electric and fiber optic system by temporarily growing our workforce by more than 1,500 utility workers from across eight states. In all, EPB rebuilt a substantial portion of the electric and fiber optic infrastructure, including 3 substations, 812 power poles, 709 transformers and more than 125 miles of power lines at an estimated cost of $34 million.

In June, EPB joined Hamilton County Schools and other community partners to ensure all students have access to the internet by launching HCS EdConnect, a program that provides broadband internet service to all economically-challenged students in the Chattanooga area — at no charge to their family. By the end of the school year, more than 1/3 of all Hamilton County students were received HCS EdConnect, who with their families represent more than 25,000 people who benefit.

In December, for the fifth consecutive year, EPB was ranked as the best midsize electric utility in the South by its residential customers, according to the J.D. Power 2020 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

2021

In February, independent research documented $2.69 billion in community benefit during the first ten years since EPB built America’s first Gig-speed community-wide fiber network to establish the nation’s most advanced smart grid power distribution system.

As home of the World’s Fastest Internet, Chattanooga was recognized by Forbes, Zillow and PC Magazine as the “Best Place for Remote Working.”

After its first full year, our HCS EdConnect program was recognized by Bloomberg, U.S. News & World Report and Vox, among others, as a model program for the nation. It also received the American Public Power Association’s Sue Kelly Community Service Award for providing high-speed internet to 25,000 people in need at no charge to their families.

During 2021, Chattanooga won a number of national “Smart City” awards for our partnership with UTC’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress including being named a 2021 “What Works Gold City.” Chattanooga and Hamilton County have been named a Digital Inclusion Trailblazer by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and Chattanooga is one of two cities worldwide selected to be part of the G20 Global Smart City Alliance.

In August, EPB, the City of Chattanooga, UTC and The Enterprise Center were awarded a $1.37 million grant from the National Science Foundation for our “Smart Corridor+” project along a section of the existing M.L. King Boulevard Smart Corridor, a 1.2 mile stretch in downtown Chattanooga used to study traffic flow, public safety and transportation, environmental impacts and other quality of life issues. Through an online portal, researchers from around the world will be able use the Smart Corridor+ as a research platform utilizing high-speed internet connectivity, computer analysis, performance measuring tools, continuously updated data and other technologies to reduce pedestrian injuries and coordinate autonomous and connected vehicles.

In October, EPB joined with its national partners in receiving a prestigious R&D 100 Award for our QED: Quantum Ensured Defense of the Smart Electric Grid project. The award is the result of several years of work during which EPB provided real-world test facilities for a pioneering quantum cryptographic technology which is designed to enhance cybersecurity for the U.S. power grid. EPB’s national partners in the project include the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Qubitekk.

Also in October, building on the successful completion of the 400th Home Uplift energy renovation in the spring of 2021, EPB, the City of Chattanooga and TVA announced the investment of another $1.2 million into the program. Home Uplift provides renovations to reduce the energy burden of people in need. The goal is to complete another 200 home energy upgrades over the next year. And, for the first time, renters can apply with consent from their landlord.

In November, EPB was named a “Smart Energy Provider” by the American Public Power Association for demonstrating a commitment to energy efficiency and environmental initiatives that support the goal of providing safe, reliable, low-cost and sustainable electric service.

Also in November, EPB, Seven States Power Corporation and Rock City celebrated the completion of a new solar powered arbor that will reduce energy consumption and enhance educational opportunities at this historic tourist venue.

In December, EPB and TVA invested another $100,000 to address hardships created by COVID-19 through United Way of Chattanooga to bolster local economic recovery. The money will provide direct support for those in a moment of immediate need which can include food, health services, transportation, crisis relief, housing, utility payments or childcare.

Also in December, EPB tied as J.D. Power’s #1 ranked electric residential utility of any size in the United States and ranked as the #1 mid-sized utility in the South for the 6th year in a row. Our EPB customers ranked us #1 when it comes to Power Quality & Reliability, Price, Corporate Citizenship, Billing & Payment and Customer Care.

2022

In January, our EPB Smart Grid was recognized nationally as the “most resilient and reliable PEER-certified utility power grid in the United States.” EPB received its PEER (Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal) Gold certification from the GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc.) for resilience and sustainability. Both existing businesses and those which invest in our service area can get points toward their facilities gaining LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification from our EPB PEER certification.

Also in January, EPB was named one of the Best Gaming ISPs in 2022 by PC Magazine which gave us the following accolades: “killer quality of the EPB,” “the provider that made Chattanooga the first Gigabit city in the U.S.,” and “this local utility-based ISP put the city on the map for gigabit connectivity and makes it a very attractive prospect for gamers.”

In April, the Quantum Protected Network, a cutting-edge cybersecurity technology developed by Qubitekk and field tested at EPB, won a 2022 Edison Gold Award. This new cybersecurity application is an extension of previous research and development by Qubitekk and EPB in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory. EPB is the only utility in the United States that is field testing this quantum technology.

HCS EdConnect won a Smart 50 award at The Smart Cities Connect Conference in April as well. Two Chattanooga Smart City projects that are partnerships between EPB, the City of Chattanooga and UTC were also nominated: The City of Chattanooga Near-Crash project and Chattanooga’s Smart City Data Integration and Monitoring System, both of which involve our MLK Smart Corridor.

Also in April, EPB opened three new EV chargers to the public. The 13 new, electric vehicle charging stations in our Downtown Parking Garage are open to employees and the public and are free for both to use, although the public does pay to park in the EPB lot.

Additionally, EPB was named #1 for best overall performance across TVA’s seven state service area in April, for helping our customers achieve better energy value through the TVA EnergyRight® programs. In fact, we were a top performer in 12 categories and helped our customers save 15.6 million kWh.

Also in May, the first group of Tyner Academy students graduated from our EPB Future Ready Institute of Technology and Networking. Many of the graduates are headed to college on scholarship. In total the seniors who graduated in May of 2022 had $6,273,000 in scholarship offers. 171 students are currently enrolled in the institute which helps open their eyes to the many career opportunities in energy and communications.

In June EPB dedicated the second side of community murals on our 10th Street Substation walls. For the second year in row, 100% of the selected submissions were from minority and/or women artists, including some who are first time muralists. This public art project is one of the many ways EPB celebrates diversity and inclusion in Chattanooga.

In August, EPB launched the nation’s first community-wide 25 gigabits per second (25,000 Mbps) internet service to be available to all residential and commercial customers over a 100% fiber optic network with symmetrical upload and download speeds. Additionally, through a partnership with Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Convention Center became EPB’s first 25 Gig customer, making it the first convention center worldwide to offer such blazingly fast speeds over a broadband network.

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