EPB During Snowstorm Had Highest Peak In Its History; Storm Was Costly To Utility

Friday, March 21, 2014

The recent snowstorm brought the highest peak power use in EPB's history, Finance Director Greg Eaves told EPB board members Friday.

The extremely high usage brought EPB the higher kilowatt usage it has been wanting to help balance its budget, but he said the usage was so high that TVA charged EPB and other affected utilities a demand charge.

Also, it cost EPB $4 million to get everyone's power back on. There were 182 crews and nearly 800 contractors involved for several days in clearing lines and getting them back online.

Mr. Eaves said the cleanup could have been much more costly except for EPB's Smart Grid. He said it automatically switched power back on for 40,000 customers.

David Wade, EPB executive, noted that the power line problems, unlike in most storms, were not in the mountainous areas. He said that was because, due to a slight temperature variation, the weight of the snow was heavier in the valley - causing limbs to break. 

EPB at this point in the fiscal year is $7.4 million below budget. Operations are $3.4 million over budget - manly attributable to the storm cleanup.

Mr. Eaves said the utility should begin to get back on track over the next several months.

He said the utility has had to deal with four of the six worst storms in area history in just the past three years.

Harold DePriest, president, noted that, "Five of the top six have been on my watch."

The fiberoptic side continues to be a much brighter story.

The video, phone and Internet service has made $9.8 million for EPB thus far this fiscal year.

Mr. DePriest said EPB needed to get 43,000 customers to make the TV operation profitable. He said it recently signed up the 56,000th customer. He said he projects it will get at least 75,000 - maybe within a year.

EPB just signed 560 units at Alexian on Signal Mountain.

The utility now has 3,900 customers on its gig service.   

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