EPB is starting on building a new $16 million operations center at Enterprise South Industrial Park.
EPB currently has two operations centers, one on 8th Street and another in Soddy Daisy. With the majority of growth in the Chattanooga area happening in the vicinity of Collegedale, EPB bought 17 acres next to Amazon in 2020 to have resources and services where they will be needed. When the pandemic hit that year and prices of everything started to go up, building the new Operations Center East was postponed until now.
Bobby Hutcherson, assistant vice president of operations, told the board of directors that bids have been requested for the building and received. And in the effort to save money, a “design/build” process has been used, which helps find efficiencies. Designers with River Street Architecture are working along with the contractor Robert Roberts on the project.
The complex that will function primarily for infrastructure maintenance and installation services will include a work space inside a large metal building, a “lay-down space,” parking areas for trucks and a shop for servicing them, indoor storge, a break room and small fitness center. There will also be above ground diesel storage. The building will be strong enough to add solar panels, said Mr. Hutcherson.
The unique design that River Street presented was favored by all involved parties. The building is designed as a drive-through. Spaces that the trucks move through are all open with no garage doors for them to hit. And extended roofs for covered parking have no columns for trucks to maneuver around.
Bids that were received ranged from $16 million to $18 million and cost of the winning design was the lowest price. It is expected to take 16 months for construction of the new facility from the time the contract is signed.
EPB has started engaging with other community-based providers, such as co-ops or municipal utilities, which are outside of EPB’s service area, said EPB President and CEO David Wade. Taking advantage of EPB’s 10 years of experience in fiber optics, and the benefit of its economy of scale, companies that are just entering the internet business are getting help from EPB which is selling them services such as tech support, alarm monitoring and internet transport. There are contracts now with 16 companies. That business has created new jobs in Chattanooga and is making money for EPB while saving it for those companies. There is also the likelihood that EPB’s business will increase as those business grow.
EPB partnered with TVA during the past month for a United Way community project. Employees delivered energy efficient LED light bulbs to households in need. The project was a way to promote energy savings, in addition to giving away the bulbs which typically last from five to 10 years, depending on use.