Our History

A long-standing history of serving Chattanooga


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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 homebuilders and offers several certification benefits for new home buyers.


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.


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.   


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.


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.


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.


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 installed a short-term solution with Quick Connect WiFi hotspots at 27 locations across the community to help provide access to internet connectivity.

When tornados, heavy storms, and high winds rolled across the community on Easter Sunday, more than 106,000 EPB customers lost 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.

This year, we 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 services 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 receiving HCS EdConnect, who with their families represent more than 25,000 people who benefit.


So far in 2021, 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. And for the fifth consecutive year, EPB was ranked as the best mid-size electric utility in the South by its residential customers, according to the J.D. Power 2020 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

As home of the world’s fastest internet, Chattanooga was recognized by Forbes, Zillow and PC Magazine as the “Best Place for Remote Working.” And 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. 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.


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