CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 25, 2023) - At a press conference today, the City of Chattanooga and EPB celebrated the completion of the "Power to Protect" microgrid based at the Chattanooga Police Services Center and Fire Department administrative headquarters at 3410 Amnicola Highway in Chattanooga. The new microgrid can generate and provide power in an emergency and sustain operations 24/7/365 with enough energy for the fire and police functions at the location to respond to the needs of the Chattanooga community indefinitely.
Functions located at the Chattanooga Police Services Center and Fire Department administrative headquarters and served by the microgrid include additional services such as SWAT team, homicide, Chattanooga Fire Station 10, radio control center, city camera surveillance, and other critical communication infrastructure. Fortunately, there has been no need to use the microgrid in an emergency, although tests take place regularly.
"EPB is a national leader in Smart Grid technologies, and we're fortunate to have their level of experience locally to protect our essential services in a sustainable manner that reduces cost and waste and ensures our first responders' ability to protect our city at all times," said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. "We're glad to add Power to Protect to a long list of successful Smart City innovations."
EPB's Smart Grid provides two pathways for power to reach the Chattanooga Police Services Center and Fire Department administrative headquarters, so the new microgrid will serve as the third line of defense should widespread outages affect Chattanooga.
"Facing an outage in an emergency is a place none of us want to be, especially as first responders," said Chattanooga Fire Chief Phil Hyman. "From the Easter 2020 tornadoes to this spring's windstorms, we've seen how changing weather impacts our safety, and this microgrid will prepare us to be resilient in any event."
To ensure comprehensive power resiliency, EPB also relocated a power pole from the front to the back of the building to avoid damage from possible wrecks in the future on the busy Amnicola Highway corridor.
"Our technology depends on electricity, so it's essential we don't lose it," said Chattanooga Police Chief Celeste Murphy. "It's a relief to know we won't have to worry about how we'll access power should we lose connection to the Smart Grid."
The Power to Protect microgrid includes two main generation and storage systems that reduce costs and allow both the City and EPB to recoup their investments more quickly:
Because utilizing energy storage reliably reduces peak demand charges, EPB's investment will pay for itself within 6-7 years and will continue to provide value well beyond the cost of purchasing and installation.
"EPB is committed to establishing microgrids like this throughout our community because they further improve the resiliency of Chattanooga's power grid," said EPB President & CEO David Wade. "This project is a great example of how we're using microgrid technology to enhance EPB's local energy mix while providing customized energy solutions to address the specific needs of customers in different areas."
EPB's Smart Grid has 1,200 smart switches, sensors and other devices on a 9,000-mile fiber optic backbone to reroute power automatically when a disruption is detected. EPB continues to expand the EPB Local Energy Mix with distributed energy resources across its 600-mile service region to improve power resiliency, business continuity for critical community resources and reduce costs for customers through peak demand management. Several projects are being planned now, particularly in rural areas that take additional time to reach should the Smart Grid be unable to reroute power.
EPB delivers advanced smart city infrastructure and world-class energy and connectivity solutions, including the most resilient smart grid power distribution system in the United States and the fastest internet in the world. EPB gained national notice when it deployed America's first community-wide Gig-speed internet in 2010, later expanding the ubiquitously available service to 10 Gig in 2015 and 25 Gig in 2022. Ever committed to keeping Chattanooga on the cutting edge, in 2022, EPB established EPB Quantum Network5M powered by Qubitekk, America's first industry-led, commercially available quantum network designed for private companies as well as government and university researchers to run quantum equipment and applications in an established fiber optic environment.
EPB utilizes its fiber optic network as the communications backbone for more than 200,000 smart switches, sensors and other devices. As a result, the Chattanooga area's power distribution system is the most advanced and highly automated smart grid in the nation. This led the U.S. Department of Energy to name EPB a living laboratory for pioneering smart grid technologies. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and more than 20 other national research partners to play a critical role in more than $155 million in smart city research, earning such recognitions as the R&D 100 Award for its work to apply quantum technologies to securing America's electric grid. EPB was also the first major power distribution utility to earn the GBCl's PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid in 2015 and followed up in 2021 by re-certifying at PEER Gold.
EPB is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga which began serving customers in 1939 and today reaches a 600-square-mile service territory that includes the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee and the surrounding area. Visit epb.com for more information.
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