EPB unveiled its new power distribution center as President and CEO Harold DePriest said, "Chattanooga is the first community in North America to combine the control of electric and fiber optic systems into one center."
He continued, "We're more prepared to serve our customers, help promote economic development and grow with new technologies."
Part of this preparedness comes from EPB's new Distribution Center, which serves as the hub of the fiber optic-based Smart Grid and features video walls that allow employees to track storms and see outages in real time.
In a presentation, President DePriest showed exactly how outages are fixed. Data from the Smart Grid is immediately visible on the center's video wall. Undisturbed power flow is shown in yellow, while outages appear as red dots. From here, if the outage can be fixed by the Smart Grid, the red becomes purple. Manually fixed locations turn green.
President DePriest said, "What we're finding, is that the bigger the storm, the lower the percentage put back on by the Smart Grid, but it's still in the 50 to 60 percent range. In a little storm, it may restore 75 percent."
Ryan Keel of EPB pointed out that areas with both fiber optic and electric outages were the highest priority.
The facility itself, operated 24/7, is designed to withstand storms. The walls and ceilings are all concrete reinforced and the windows are designed to be impact resistant. Steel hurricane shutters can also come over the windows.
President DePriest said, "Everything is based on this thing being able to sustain a massive storm hit."
The Distribution Center is also designed to keep customers' data extremely safe. With security guards and video surveillance at all times, the facility also requires fingerprint access for areas with sensitive information.