EPB President Harold DePriest said the agency gets interest from around the world in its state-of-the-art fiberoptic network.
He said delegations from New Zealand, Columbia, Israel, Ireland and Denmark have studied the system he said is providing multiple benefits to businesses, residents and ratepayers.
Mr. DePriest told members of the EPB Board that in the most recent storm the system worked to get all power back on a day and a half early and save $1.5 million in overtime that would have been spent prior to the Smart Grid.
He said, "It brings reliability for business and for peoples' homes." He said the business angle is a big selling point to potential industry. "That is one of the factors that could tilt them in favor of Chattanooga," he said.
Mr. DePriest said the phone, TV and Internet operations, that are based off the fiberoptic system, have been so successful that the internal loan that was used to start those operations has been paid off.
He said those divisions are yielding $19.8 million in revenue, "and that's rather nice."
Mr. DePriest said total fiberoptic benefits, including the elimination of human meter readers and reduction of theft of power, is as much as $28 million annually. He said that is more than meeting the agency's $22 million mortgage.
He said a remaining telecom loan should be paid off in three years and the loan for the fiber system in 10 years.
EPB was the beneficiary of a $120 million Department of Energy for a quick installation of the Smart Grid. He said that allowed EPB to complete the system in a year and a half rather than the 10 years it would have taken without the infusion of cash.
There is about $9 million left unspent in the grant. All of those funds will be spent here, it was stated.