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The Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB) said it has registered more than 90,000 subscribers to its fibre optic telecommunications services.In a press statement, the utility said it has surpassed the number of customers registered to its telecommunications (telecoms) services by close to three times the number it anticipated to register by 2017, since the launch of the company’s network in 2010.

Using the $220 million fibre optic telecoms network, EPB provides some 83,332 residential customers and 6,923 business customers with video, internet and telephone services.

Of the company’s 90,255 telecoms customers, more than 80,000 are also using EPB’s electricity services.

Joe Ferguson, chairman of EPB, said: "Our original board decision to undertake fibre optics has proven to be very solid and a great asset for our community and our electric system.

"We initially determined we needed about 35,000 customers to pay for our fibre optics network, but we have far exceeded that number and it continues to grow every day."

During the utility’s first three months of the current financial year, telecommunications services have raised more than $14.5 million in net profit for EPB.

Telecommunications and smart grid management

The telecoms network has also helped the utility sustain the reliability of its grid network through the provision of a secured and fast communications platform for grid assets and applications.

During last week’s storm which hit the US, EPB claims it used the smart grid telecoms network to avoid and reduce the occurrence of blackouts to some 17,800 electric customers.

In December 2016, EPB reported that its smart grid has managed to keep the utility's electric power on for about 90% of Chattanooga's electricity users in spite of several rounds of violent storms.  [EPB Chattanooga minimises storm damage with smart grid].

In addition, Greg Eaves, chief financial officer at EPB, said the network has helped the utility reduce its energy tariffs by about 7%.

Bento Lobo, professor of finance at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, added that "EPB's fibre optics network has in its first three years saved $130.5 million in power outages, boosted business energy efficiency by $234.5 million and spurred $461 million in new business investment."

 

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