EPB Annual Report 2013


Enhancing The Smart Grid

Already the country’s most automated, EPB’s Smart Grid got even smarter this year, as EPB crews added 200 smart switches to our 46 kV system, on top of the 1200 smart switches installed on our 12 kV system.

Exceeding our own estimate of a 40% reduction in outage duration, we delivered a 60% reduction—eliminating 45 million customer outage-minutes over the past 12 months. According to a UC Berkeley study, power outages cost communities across the country $80 billion annually. Chattanooga’s share of that cost is $100 million per year, meaning this reduction may have saved our customers and community $60 million in 2013.

Outsmarting Outages

The Smart Grid demonstrated its true value throughout the year, and particularly on July 5, 2012. Were it not for the Smart Grid, the wind storms on this date would have knocked out power to over 77,000 homes and businesses. But because of the Smart Grid, only 35,000 homes and businesses saw a significant power interruption. In all, the Smart Grid avoided 58 million customer minutes interrupted, saved $1.4 million in restoration costs and reduced the total time of the restoration effort by 1½ days. That’s not just reducing outage duration—it’s outsmarting outages.

Providing More Relevant Data

Most energy providers only provide usage information that’s 30 days old. But EPB’s Smart Grid makes it possible for customers to view 15-minute increments of usage, in near real-time. Giving our customers a more complete, timelier view of their usage and billing is just one way the Smart Grid is helping our customers make smarter decisions about their energy use.

Reacting To Outages Faster

Sometimes the Smart Grid’s greatest challenges come from nature itself. In one incident, a falling tree took three power substations offline, affecting power delivery to 11,258 homes and businesses. A traditional power grid would have required truck crews to identify the damaged sections of the grid, travel there, and manually reroute around the damage, a process that could take hours. But thanks to the Smart Grid, the re-routing work and near immediate restoration for customers happened automatically and/or remotely. All told, every customer in the area had power back on inside of six minutes.

Receiving Industry Honors

In the past year, the press has paid increased attention to EPB’s Smart Grid. For the second year in a row, our employees’ hard work and dedication earned EPB the Best Distribution Automation honors on Greentech Media’s Top 10 North American Utilities list. And following Hurricane Sandy’s effect on the Northeast power grid, media including Fox News, CBS News, the New York Times, and Wall Street Journal all devoted coverage to Chattanooga’s Smart Grid.

Improving Energy Efficiency

Imagine a company that actually wanted to help its customers buy less of its product. EPB customers don’t have to use their imaginations—over the past year, our employees have provided 1,600 free in-home energy audits to interested customers. During these audits, EPB technicians examine homes and businesses to find ways to improve energy efficiency. This year, our audit program earned $500,000 in incentives for residents, and $1,000,000 in incentives for businesses.

Guarding The Bottom Line, and the Environment

In the past year, EPB and its customers weren’t the only ones who saw benefit in the Smart Grid. Standard & Poor’s upgraded EPB’s bond rating to AA+, citing Smart Grid as one rationale.

And the Smart Grid is about much more than dollars and cents. In the past year, the system has saved our employees and trucks more than 260,000 miles of travel and 11,500 gallons of fuel. Plus, the intelligence that comes with the 6 billion data points collected per year from the Smart Grid’s field sensors will help EPB employees continue to make adjustments and improvements to benefit everyone.

Learn more about EPB by clicking to
another section of our report.